Sunday, December 31, 2006

MSD Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006: 4.

Well, it’s late December which means it’s the time for television shows, magazines, websites and blogs to present their obligatory 2006 Best Of … lists. And the MSD is no exception. So, here is the Miami Sports Dude’s Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006. I’ll be counting down the top ten from 10 to 1 in the next two weeks. And remember, there is to be no wagering of any kind ... and now, on with the countdown ...

#4. Dwyane Wade Super Star

Here’s a fact. Dwyane Wade is everywhere. And he’s all ours. Since leading the Miami Heat to championship glory and earning himself the Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade has been all over the place. You go to a book store or a CVS or an airport, and the entire magazine rack is just a collage of Dwyane Wade’s face. He’s been on the covers of GQ, Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, Men's Health, Dime, and Slam to name a few. And he's appeared on television shows like Live with Regis and Kelly and Late Night with David Letterman. He’s in those commercials with Charles Barkley as well as a star of shoe commercials directed by Spike Lee. He’s also in that ad where he shows up and gives a bunch of kids a new basketball rim, a coach a brand new SUV and then rides off on a squeaky bike.

The other day, my wife and I popped in our wedding video to re-live our magical day. And Dwyane Wade appeared during the reception and made a toast. I was looking at old photographs from my high school prom and found a picture of Dwyane Wade dancing with my date. Yesterday a breaking news alert announcing Sadam Hussein’s execution was interrupted by a Dwyane Wade commercial. The man is everywhere.

What we have in Dwyane Wade is something special. He’s an artist on the court. He transcends greatness. And he is slowly, but surely, growing into a sports icon and legend. What he did this past June was stuff of legend. And when all the bullshit about fouls and refs and too many trips to the foul-line dies down, only one thing remains. Dwyane Wade is a phenomenon. And he plays for your Miami Heat. And I hope we can take pause and appreciate that.

Michael Jordan perfected the art of marketing for professional athletes. And Wade is just following in that wake. He’s a model for Sean John and he’s a spokesman for cell phones. He’s also the antithesis of your typical professional super star athlete. Humble, grounded, classy.

What he does off the court is white noise. He’s a marketing machine, like Jordan. And that’s fine. But we Miami sports fans haven’t had a star amongst us like this since Dan Marino hawked Isotoner gloves and shattered every major NFL passing record in the 80’s and 90’s. And in the age of the Internet and 24 hour news and sports channels, Dwyane Wade is suddenly known by housewives and folks who couldn’t tell a basketball from a Buick. And that’s Dwyane Wade, the entertainer.

But on the basketball court, Dwyane Wade is a player. And a great one at that. A Great One. Dwyane Wade with a basketball is all at once precision, breathtaking and astounding. To his fans and teammates, he’s exquisiteness. To his rivals and competitors, he’s dread. The extraordinary beauty of Dwyane Wade’s basketball skills are what makes him what he truly is. A star. An icon. A growing legend. And he is the first player in the history of Miami sports to be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. Not even Marino was ever given that honor.

And that’s the Dwyane Wade we Heat fans need to embrace.

My father always shares his memories of watching Muhammad Ali fight on TV. To me, Ali is The Greatest. He's a mythic figure that only exists in old boxing footage and photographs. To my father, as a young man, he was Ali, the boxer. Not yet the legend, but a legend in the making.

I like to think we’re seeing the same thing from Wade. And some day, I’ll be able to tell my own son that I watched Dwyane Wade play basketball.

So while his face is everywhere and while he’s swiftly becoming a household name, let’s not forget he plays for you, Heat fans. Let’s be entertained by Dwyane Wade, the face. The pitchman. The entertainer.
But … let’s appreciate and be grateful for Dwyane Wade, the basketball player.

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Great post. Now we just need him to get back from that damn wrist injury.

But yea, as a season ticket holder -- I'm enjoying every moment watching Wade.
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