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Looking back and ahead: Bosh says year was a grind, but hopes he, James and Wade stay together

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SAN ANTONIO - About an hour after the season ended, Chris Bosh was standing near the bus ramp from where the Miami Heat would soon depart for the airport and the off-season.

Miami's two-year reign was over.

And Bosh almost sounded relieved.

The Heat got rolled in the NBA Finals by San Antonio, losing in five games, the last three of them lopsided, and for the first time since 2011 there would be no championship parade in Miami. The same team that the Heat wore down in the 2013 finals had all the answers, ushering in a summer for Miami that will be filled with questions about the futures of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh.

"I don't think anybody really enjoyed this season like in years past," Bosh told The Associated Press. "There was no, like, genuine joy all the time. It seemed like work. It was a job the whole year. Winning was just a relief. Losing was a cloud over us sometimes and then we'd break out of it — and then go right back. But we got here. We had a chance. They were just better."

That being said, and while hardly committing to a fifth season of the "Big 3" era in Miami, Bosh made it clear: The group wants to remain intact. Whether or not personal choices and financial realities of a salary-capped, luxury-taxed world will allow that to happen remain unclear.

"We want to stay together, man," Bosh said. "I'll say that. It's a great organization, great team and great city. And to have a chance, that's all you can ask for."

James insisted he hasn't thought about what decisions he has to make this summer. Wade has often expressed interest in remaining with the Heat. Bosh has said repeatedly that he wants to stay. But all can become free agents in the next couple weeks, and the Heat might be rooting for that to happen.

By opting out, they could get new deals with the Heat and create financial flexibility for team president Pat Riley to lure new pieces into a locker room that will need new faces.

"The whole league continues to get better every single year," James said. "Obviously we would need to get better from every facet, every position. It's just how the league works."

For as well as he played in Game 5 — 31 points and 10 rebounds in what would be the final game of Miami's run as champion — James' best display of defence came afterward, when pressed repeatedly about his future.

"I will deal with my summer when I get to that point," James said. "Me and my team will sit down and deal with it. I love Miami. My family loves it. But obviously right now that's not even what I'm thinking about. You guys are trying to find answers. I'm not going to give you one."

The Heat aren't expected to hold exit interviews until later this week.

James and Wade shared the postgame podium Sunday, possibly for the last time. Wade seemed to be labouring in the last two games of the finals, shooting just 28 per cent from the floor and 50 per cent from the foul line.

"It wasn't just Dwyane," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Wade's struggles. "It was pretty much everybody except for LeBron."

Wade's knees and health have been a concern all year, never more than in the finals.

"I'm all right," Wade said. "Can't win them all. You try to, but you can't win them all."

The Heat have known for four years that this summer of decisions and possible changes was looming, and have planned accordingly.

Besides the "Big 3," the locker room is filled with free-agents-in-waiting. Chris Andersen, who excelled for little money the last two seasons, will be getting a raise from someone. Mario Chalmers can leave, Ray Allen isn't sure if he'll play in Miami or anywhere else, Shane Battier is retiring and Udonis Haslem — who has been with the Heat for 11 seasons, just like Wade — also has an uncertain future.

"It wasn't a distraction," Haslem said. " We got here. And if someone had told me when I signed on the dotted line that I'd go to four straight finals, I'd take it."

The Spurs don't see the Heat going anywhere.

"They're a class act and they'll be back next year for sure," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I don't think anybody would really doubt that."

Bosh can only hope he's right.

"I see why people were saying three-peating is hard. I get it now," Bosh said. "I get it. There's just so many other things you have to fight. The human psyche, the human condition. We're all human. And it was a long, tough season."

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