The iconic Miami Heat Big 3, consisting of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, is arguably the most hated team in the history of the NBA. People didn't like that James, who already ascended to the "best player in the world" status at that time, joined a championship squad that was the Heat, and it didn't help that they recruited another All-Star in Bosh to join their jam-packed team.
The Heatles (as the Big 3 was often referred to) went on a rollercoaster-like journey throughout their 4-year tenure together. They lost 2 NBA Finals matchups but also won 2 championships. Unlike other big 3s formed in the past and modern era, this team was different in terms of the reception they received from their rivals and fans.
Wade believes it was racially motivated.
In every arena they went to (that wasn't in Miami), the Heatles often heard boos and heckles from the crowd. Fans hated that they built what looked like an unbeatable team to chase championships. Miami also received a ton of flack for forming a big 3 just to make it easier on James, Wade, and Bosh to solidify their legacy by winning a title.
But according to Wade, the hate the Heat received was more than fans and executives showing fear and insecurity. Wade believes the slander was racially motivated because their top 3 players came from a colored background.
"We knew that some of the hate was because of our skin color," Wade claimed in his recent appearance at The Old Man & The Three podcast. "Because of being Black men and deciding to control the fate of our careers. So, when we had the power, when we had the moment, we took it. But some of the hate came because we were three Black guys who decided and changed the way that the NBA probably would ever be because of that decision."
Wade feels this wasn't the case for Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
To prove race was a factor in all the hate they received, Wade points out this wasn't the case for Larry Bird, who led the Boston Celtics to 3 championships with Kevin McHale and Robert Parish by his side. As for Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, Wade also feels that since they didn't form their own big 3 (outside of doing it organically), the hate they received was a little less.
"If you think about it, no one gives backlash to any championships that Larry Bird won, that Magic Johnson won, that Michael Jordan won. You don't win championships without playing with other guys," Wade concluded.
Ultimately, the 3-time champion's overall point was that the Heat already received a lot of hate because of forming what looked like an unbeatable Big 3, but the widespread rage was extra ruthless just because they were black athletes.