Wednesday, June 21, 2006

If I Could Be Like Wade

It’s the most popular question in sports.

No, not whether Pat Riley’s well-groomed hair single handedly led to the hole in the ozone layer.

It’s the media darlings constantly trying to find the next Michael Jordan.

There are those who aren’t really close like Tracy McGrady who can’t even get past the first round. Win or else there is no comparison. Then there are others like Kobe Bryant. Bryant has the game, the star power and more importantly the rings. Already half way to Jordan’s 6 rings, but without Shaquille O’Neal in the key, things have gotten less sunny in L.A. Bryant’s Lakers were one and done in this year’s playoffs after blowing a 3-1 edge to the Suns. Perhaps Kobe’s real comparison is to the early Jordan (when he still had a little hair), the one who put too much on himself and not enough on his teammates. Of course if Bryant learns like Jordan does, he might just rack up more rings than anyone.

Than there’s Lebron. The man we’re all witness too.

Lebron James may have had trouble reaching the playoffs with his Cleveland Cavaliers but when they did they sire weren’t ready to go home. James willed them to victory over the Wizards and took the Pistons to the brink. When you first playoff game is compared favorably to Magic Johnson’s you have a candidate. Lebron James seems to be mentally superior to Jordan at the same age. He has done a wonderful job making the people around him better, the problem is better is still not good enough. Still Cleveland has to be happy.

Oh wait, then there’s that other guy.

You know the one from Chicago. He’s the guy who falls down a lot and gets back up. He’s the one who went to Marquette. He’s the one who impressed against Indiana as a rookie in the playoffs. He humiliated Pistons defenders. Oh yeah, and he just won a ring.

You can call him Flash.

Dwayne Wade is not the next Michael Jordan, there never will be. MJ is famous for his switch-the-hand lay up and game winning shots against Cleveland and Utah as he is for movies like Space Jam and the shoes.

He is one of a kind, but Wade doesn’t need to be MJ, he’s already spectacular enough on his own.

The better question is though, who will be the next Dwayne Wade?

I saw Jordan, I loved Jordan but I have never seen someone take over a game like Wade did. This kid (and that’s really what he is) avoided a 3-0 series death sentence single-handedly by erasing a 13 point deficit with 6 and a half minutes to go. The Mavericks could not stop them. The Pistons never even came close to slowing him down. Wade never missed, and oh yeah he’s only been in the NBA three years.

Sure he had the Diesel, but you know how high gas prices are these days. The Diesel was dripping, but Flash was stunning.

Perhaps the greatest shock is just how humble this guy is. Wade repeated “15 strong” so much it was obvious how strong Riley’s brainwashing is.

Michael Doleac did not decide the championship. Wade however probably deserves two rings for his effort and execution. Wade is the best player in the NBA and I don’t think he even realizes it. That sort of humility, team-first attitude actually makes him an even better person to have on your team.

Wade like Jordan was not a top pick like Lebron James. He was expected to be good not great. We all learned our lesson then, and it took one Final series for us to learn it now.

I should know, I’m a witness.


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