Is Dwyane Wade the Best in the NBA?
I just finished reading the latest GQ with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade on the cover (my wife is a big fan of the photo; me, not so much), the Sports Illustrated article with Wade on the cover with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and another article on how Wade has reached superstar status. With so many people gawking over Wade, giving him so much praise and adulation, it made me wonder if Wade really should be given consideration as the game's best player.
Wade is that rare star who is both efficient and entertaining and his performance in the NBA Finals, especially in Game 5, was truly incredible. He has made the Heat his team, Shaquille O'Neal his sidekick and there are so many reasons to root for Wade, beside his talents. He's humble. He's has had an incredible rags-to-riches rise to superstardom. And, he comes off as such a golly-shucks nice guy. The opposite personality of, say, Kobe Bryant.
Wade probably should've received more love in regular season MVP consideration last season because his statistics were incredible and the Heat doesn't come close to winning 52 games - two more than James - without him. But while he has the ring and the Finals MVP, would I take him over James or Bryant right now? Probably not.
I remember getting into my first Wade vs. James argument shortly after Wade scored 42 points against the Wizards to complete a four-game sweep two years ago. I've said that I'm firmly in the James camp because he's almost three years younger and he does things on the floor that are truly mind-boggling and he has never had a teammate remotely as good as Shaq. But now that Shaq is no longer The Big Diesel, but rather the Big Backpack (he's riding on Wade's shoulders), Wade vs. James is truly a great argument. Not for the future, because the future is now.
That being said, I still think Bryant is the most talented player in the league right now and I agree with most general managers that he is the best shooting guard in the game. He still has three championship rings and a scoring title to his credit. I know he didn't win a playoff series last season, but he does play in the Western Conference and he carried a rather inferior bunch further than most expected.
But with Bryant expected to miss some time recovering from his knee injury, Wade has his best chance to possibly bumb Bryant for first team All-NBA honors at shooting guard. The Heat should get more wins that the Lakers, and he will definitely get more love with the MVP if improves on his numbers from last season: 27.2 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds.
I honestly believe that we were robbed of what would've been an interesting summer battle for hoops supremacy when Bryant couldn't join the U.S. Men's National Team because of knee surgery. Wade and James are competitors but also good friends, so they were able to put aside their egos for each other; they even traded numbers from the Olympic team (Wade moved from No. 6 to No. 9; James from No. 9 to No. 6). But do you think Wade and James would've deferred to Kobe? Think Kobe would've deferred to them? Now that Wade is considering taking Pat Riley's advice and possibly sitting out the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament, we may have to wait until the Olympic training camp - when Kobe is approaching 30 - to see the three on the same team.
Who would you rather have?
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