The bad dream can come from anywhere. Perhaps there was a dinner entrée that interfered with digestion. Perhaps there was a long-festering problem that never had been expressed. Perhaps there was a worry, a fear, that suddenly developed. Hard to say.
LeBRON: Well, I guess it’s time to pick the new city.
D-WADE: Definitely time.
BOSH: Let’s do it.
Sometimes a few lines from a news report can set the stage. A story out of Miami this past week said that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the celebrated Big Three of the Miami Heat, will meet sometime before the season ends to determine their communal future. The stars, who joined forces four years ago on the Heat, all have opt-out clauses in their contracts for the end of this season.
LeBRON: Anybody want to stay in Miami? Let’s see a show of hands. Myself, I think we should take our talents elsewhere. Spread our greatness around the NBA.
D-WADE: I could see that. New city. New challenge. New market!
BOSH: I’m with the program.
There is little doubt the players have done what they promised to do in Miami. When James made his self-important announcement on his own television special that he would leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Wade and Bosh in Miami there was much concern. Could elite players simply band together and decide where they would go to win championships on some super team? The answer now apparently is that they can. The Heat have made the NBA Finals the past three years, won the title the past two. Fourth in won-loss record this season, they certainly are in the mix again.
LeBRON: So, where do we go? I know everybody wants me to return home to Cleveland, be the good guy, all of that. I don’t think so. I’m thinking more New York. That’s the place to be. The Knicks. How much love do you think we’d get from Spike? Maybe Brooklyn. The Nets. We could play for that Russian billionaire. Cool.
D-WADE: I’ve always been a Chicago guy. Middle America. That would be a lot of fun. You’d like it there. LA wouldn’t be bad, either. The movie stars. The weather.
BOSH: I think we should go someplace completely different. Let’s pick some city, some environment that would charge the batteries. A place no one would expect us to go.
Any team the three stars would join for next season would become not only a contender for the NBA title but an instant favorite to win the whole thing. The rebuilding program would take no more time than the 30 seconds the players needed to sign their contracts. A terrible team would be transformed into a powerhouse. Eureka.
The idea would make such sense. Boston. The Celtics would be back on the road after one year away from the chase. They would be part of the winning in the city again, back with the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. Just like that. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge probably is the most competitive, success-driven executive in the sport. What wouldn’t he do to win? Boston. Perfect sense.
LeBRON: We’d be putting ourselves into the wayback machine, connecting to all of those banners, all of that tradition. We’d win three or four titles, get our numbers retired, put up in the rafters with all of those flags. Give us some dignity. I have some business interests up that way, too. I like it.
D-WADE: I can see it now: ‘LeBron James, greatest Celtic of all time.’ You’ll push right by Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, all of them. The legend would be polished to perfection. Being a Celtic would give you — give all of us — the dignity that we’ve always wanted in this game.
BOSH: Seafood, colleges, tech stuff. Culture. Maybe Aerosmith or the Dropkick Murphys would sing a song about us.
The Big Three approach surely has worked for the Celtics in the past. Ainge put together his 2008 champions by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Pierce. That was his hastily devised blueprint after the draft lottery business did not deliver. Worked better than he ever suspected. Three stars have become almost a necessity for professional modern basketball success. The Celtics’ earlier Big Three of Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish probably set that standard first.
LeBRON: Big Papi seems to like it there. I saw his picture with the President of the United States just the other day. Good picture. Was that taken with a Samsung phone?
D-WADE: Tom Brady and the Mrs. seem to like it there. They’re giving up the house in Los Angeles, staying around Boston. That makes me encouraged.
BOSH: There’s a feistiness about the place. Boston Strong. We could fit into Boston Strong!
The mechanics of signing the three players probably would be easier with the Celtics than any other team in the NBA. The Celtics have trimmed down this season, cleaned out salary, acquired handfuls of draft choices. They have treated the entire season as “Factory Closeout. All Things Must Go.” They could fill out the roster with inexpensive rookies and inexpensive veterans. They might even be able to keep Rajon Rondo. They would have the perfect add-on situation.
LeBRON: So, it’s Boston? Agreed?
BOSH: Now playing for the Boston Celtics . . .
The heart beats rapidly. A cool sweat stains the nightshirt.
The best answer to the bad dream always is a good drink of water.Leigh Montville’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.