Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Dwyane Wade: Icon
Every NBA playoff season or so, an iconic moment presents itself to the viewing public. It is shown on constant highlight reels and is continuously discussed on talk radio, water coolers and neighborhood parks everywhere. It is seared into the sports public consciences for generations. It becomes a part of the NBA culture and it becomes a part of the rich history that defines this great game.
Magic’s Jr. Sky Hook against the Celtics in the ’87 Finals.
Jordan’s switching of hands shot against the Lakers in the ’91 Finals.
Larry Bird’s in-bounds steal against the Pistons in the ’87 Conference Finals.
Jordan’s jumper against Criag Elo and the Cavs.
Jordan’s jumper against the Jazz.
The list is endless.
And now, the list has added a new play and a new star.
The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade has just contributed to the profusion of jaw dropping moments of the NBA postseason with his Game 4 aerobatic three point play against the Pistons. The play defines the player, like no other. It is at once heroic, awe-inspiring and standard operating procedure. It’s what we’ve come to know on a nightly basis as Heat fans. And it is what gives us the faith that we can beat the best team in the East and make a run for championship glory.
Wade sprinted past the Piston defenders, arching his body up towards the basket, only to get fouled and thrown off course while still in mid-air. And yet, just like Jordan and Dr. J before him, Wade seemed to defy gravity (or maybe he slowed down time itself), as he flipped the ball over his shoulder for a perfect shot down the basket. Dime Mag said it best in this re-cap of the play: “… We can’t even say the shot was Jordan-esque, because we’ve never seen anyone do anything like that."
The play doesn’t shock Heat fans. We have been in awe of D-Wade since he stepped onto the court three seasons ago. But the play seems to be the talk of NBA Nation today. And folks are finally realizing that Wade is right up there with his fellow young stud, LeBron James, as the Next Star of the NBA. James has been given the "The Chosen One" moniker and has his very own, multi-million dollar Nike ad campaign telling the world that we're all "Witnesses" to his greatness. All for the sake of finding that next NBA Icon that Jordan's (last) retirement seems to have left behind.
Yet, what few have failed to recognize is that Dwyane Wade is far more advanced, has accomplished far more and is far more of a polished player than James is at this point.
In his first three seasons in the NBA, Wade has led his team to three consecutive playoff appearances, including two consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. And now, he has his team on the brink of the NBA Finals, against the same team James and his Cavaliers could not close out. And with all the Jordan-James comparisons made by the World Wide Leader In Hyperbole, ESPN, there is simply no denying that Wade is far more Jordan-esque than James is.
While the media is trying to force fit James into the Jordan mold, Wade seems to be doing it by himself, almost seamlessly. His nightly highlights are complimented by his fourth quarter heroics and his peerless ability to take over games and hit game-winning shots. He is fearless. And, at the same time, makes everyone on the opposing side fearful. And that, more than anyting, is Jordan-esque.
Yes, he has the luxury of playing with Shaq, and yes James’ day in the playoff sun will come soon. But for right now, Dwyane Wade is the "Jordan" everybody seems to have been looking for.
Or maybe, to paraphrase Dime Mag, he’s not Jordan at all.
He’s Dwyane Wade. And no one has ever seen anything like him.
And he’s the latest to become a part of the NBA Playoff Iconic Pantheon ...
Witnessing Dwyane Wade [Mr. Irrelevant]
Thank God For Wade [The Basketball Jones]
Wade's Big Fourth Quarter [ESPN]
Wade Takes Over [Sun-Sentinel]
Labels: Miami Heat
Thanks for that post. Made my night.
And it's about time he gets the national exposure he deserves. Wade is special and I am thankful he plays in a Miami Heat uniform!
Wade just has ice water running through his veins. You just know he's going to take over in the 4th and you feel absolutely confident that he's going to get it done.
The guy is simply amazing.
It's hard to describe. The play happened so quick and yet, you saw the whole thing unfold in almost slow-motion. The entire arena erupted when the shot fell and all five Pistons just stood and looked at each other as if they were saying, "How the hell are we going to win this game with this guy doing that kind of thing???"
The Heat bench all jumped at the same time in celebration. And Shaq just stood there as if this was just another Dwayne Wade play. Ho hum.
In the back of my mind, I thought the same thing you wrote, Dude. Jordan's switching of hand shot against the Lakers flashed in my mind. At that moment I just knew we were going to win and go to Detroit up 3-1.
It feels awesome to have a player of Wade's caliber on your side. Like him, you feel like you can take on the world. Awesome!
And, personally, I haven't felt this confident or gotten the goosebumps as a Miami sports fan since the days of Dan Marino. Wade has the makings of being the next Marino in this town.
I'm just excited to be a part of it all.