It works because Chris Bosh makes it work. It works because the third wheel has learned to roll with it on the court, but more importantly, use the inertia to position himself off the court.
"I never try to get 'em mixed up," the introspective Miami Heat center said recently in a candid, private moment.
But Big Three and third wheel are merely the basketball part of equation. Instead, Bosh has taken his championship platform and crafted his own stage, on the web, on television, in various media projects.
It is why the member of the Big Three who would seem most likely to want to leave as a free agent in the offseason instead feels remarkably comfortable in his championship skin.
"We have a lot of great players here; we've got LeBron, Dwyane," Bosh said. "I'm not going to be crazy or be disrespectful to this team and take over their positions. I'm going to play my role to the best of my ability.
"As far as visibility is concerned, we have a unique opportunity to just really get out there and do some unique things. And, really, I try to take the bull by the horns and just try to build relationships that I want to build. And if I have certain opportunities that come to me, I'm going to take them."
It is a unique aspect of the collaboration, each player with a comfortable niche beyond the court, part of a basketball collective but also uniquely cast away from the game.
Wade as the stylist, LeBron as the legacy chaser, Bosh as the, well, most interesting man in the room.
"It kind of happened and I just played to it," he said. "I'm just myself, and if people give you a tag, I just try to run with it. So I just embody and exaggerate the perception of what people give to me and it works out."
And that's the thing, no one has gotten lost in the shuffle, even if it initially appeared that would be Bosh's fate.
"We talk about it all the time," he said, "it is what it is."
To Bosh, the off-court dynamic is similar to the playing style Erik Spoelstra has crafted, where each player is not only coached to his strengths, but also encouraged to expand beyond perceived constraints. Who else, after all, would cast himself in a web cartoon about an art gallery . . . and pull it off? Or torment a high-school kid as a basketball bully on Parks and Recreation?
"The thing I like about this, is, of course I'm not the guy, I'm not the number-one option," he said. "That gives me creativity to be able to take my position and mold it into what I want to do.
"When you have the unique opportunity to win a championship, that kind of opens a couple more doors. I'm just being proactive. I think that's one of the main things, to be proactive, get out there, and if you have opportunities, take 'em."
The shoe deals remain the province of Wade and James. Bosh understands that part, part of his comfort within his own gangly skin.
"I don't play above the rim and I'm not a guard," he said with a laugh. "That's another thing you kind of have to be realistic about as a big. If you don't dunk a lot, you're probably not going to get a big-time shoe deal.
"But, like I say, that's a part of the creativity. LeBron and Dwyane, they get those sneaker opportunities, the drink opportunities, the typical things, and they get to do other things. I get to get out there and kind of pick and choose what I want to do.
"It's good. It's right for me."
IN THE LANE
THE MILLER ROLE: While there has been plenty of speculation about who will fill the "Mike Miller Role" for the Heat this season, perhaps it's time to exhale. The "Mike Miller Role" last season meant 59 regular-season appearances for a grand total of 900 minutes. The "Mike Miller Role" meant playing as a ninth or 10th man behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, Shane Battier and, sometimes, Udonis Haslem. The "Mike Miller Role" is the hot hand, be it James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr. or anyone else who is lighting it up. Yes, Miller stepped in as the de facto starter when Wade needed time off, but there is plenty of flexibility with this Heat roster, with Michael Beasley potentially to get a sniff of such a role (perhaps this season making the "Mike Miller Role" more than of an 11th man). When you're debating who will be your 10th man, you're already in a pretty good place, with all due respect for what Miller provided during his three seasons in South Florida, both on the court and in the locker room.
GETTING CLOSER: Prior to the Orlando Magic's Wednesday preseason opener in Jacksonville, Magic CEO Alex Martins mentioned a desire for his team to land its own NBA Development League team in Jacksonville. With the D-League having initially sprouted in the Southeast only to abandon the region, such a move by the Magic could open the door for the Heat to follow up with a team in Fort Myers, which certainly would make far more geographic sense than the current basketball-side relationship with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce. While a new state-of-the-art arena in Sioux Falls gives the Heat one of the top facilities in the D-League, sending a player for seasoning during a schedule lull would make far more sense with a quick drive across Alligator Alley, with Germain Arena in Estero certainly up to D-League standards (albeit with scheduling priority for the highly successful minor-league hockey team there, the Florida Everblades of the ECHL).
ALL ABOUT AMARE: In the wake of Carmelo Anthony taking pity on the injury woes of Amare Stoudemire, keep in mind that the New York Knicks have a far greater stake in Stoudemire's reemergence than this season's playoff race. The only way for the Knicks to enter the LeBron James free-agent sweepstakes next summer would be to unload the $23.4 million Stoudemire has on the books for 2014-15, an opt-out he surely will bypass. A re-signed Anthony and a returning Stoudemire would account for about $46 million in 2014-15 payroll for New York. For the Knicks to become a 2014 free-agency player, Stoudemire has to be featured enough so he can be showcased for a longshot trade. "He was one of the reasons I wanted to come to New York," Anthony said. Now, Stoudemire's cap burden could have Anthony rethinking about whether to stay.
WELL PLAYED: Credit Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel for playing to the crowd. In the Philippines for an exhibition against the Houston Rockets, Vogel extolled the virtues of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose Filipino heritage makes him a national favorite there. "I have such great respect for Erik as a coach," Vogel said. "He gets not nearly enough credit for the job he has done with that team. . . . That's why they've won the championship, because of his ability to get them to play as a team. Talent doesn't win championships. You gotta play as a team, and he's been able to do that." Soon enough, we'll rejoin Vogel criticism of Heat flopping, already in progress.
25. Points for Heat 2013 second-round NBA Draft acquisition James Ennis in his Australia debut, as his Perth team won its NBL season opener Friday over Adelaide. The Heat continue to maintain the rights to Ennis, the swingman out of Long Beach State.
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