Consequently, the lack of time and involvement by Wade through the course of the deal resulted in a partnership that wasn’t sustainable. He was never fully invested with Converse to help innovate a product and market it in a cool way. Sneakerheads were never given the chance to get hyped for his Cons. Instead, he opted to follow the footsteps of ’Melo and CP3 to represent the shadows of Mike’s greatness.
And for all the flak and hate that LeBron got for “The Decision” and needing to join forces with the game’s best, Wade has been conveniently left unbothered throughout their time together. Media and fans believe he can do no wrong because he has a Finals MVP and a ring. Who knew that NBA greats are now treated like NFL quarterbacks? Only in football is there a standard where winning a Super Bowl and maintaining a high level of dominance suffices to remain among the elite. Wade hasn’t dealt with the same ire directed towards LeBron these past two seasons. He’s been chillin’ in South Beach off his past laurels for an eternity now.
Charles Barkley, never shy to share his thoughts, virtually echoed this stance before this year’s playoffs began: “You know the thing that’s funny? Dwyane Wade never gets any criticism because he didn’t close in the Finals last year. I actually think LeBron got tired. He used a lot of energy shutting down Derrick Rose. Then he had to guard Jason Terry. But it’s funny how Wade doesn’t get any criticism for not finishing in the Finals last year. Wade’s a great offensive player, but LeBron makes everyone around him better.”
How did D-Wade respond? With a sense of obstinacy: “He has a job to do. Whatever he’s going to say, he can say it. It doesn’t change the time I go to sleep, the time I wake up, and what I do in-between. It’s TV ratings. It’s not going to change ’06. So sorry, Charles, it’s not going to change ’06 at all.”
Six years have already passed since Wade’s coronation, yet what he did last season against an older version of the Mavs is simply bypassed as if it never happened. He still refers back to his one glorious moment.
Maybe he feels that last season’s Finals collapse against Dallas should only be the burden of LeBron. Maybe he has selective amnesia to recall the last time he played in the Finals. Maybe he can’t acknowledge the impact his legacy will have through how he performed last year and in these present Finals.
All of these possibilities should be criminal on Wade’s behalf. Although he did possess the highest scoring average in last year’s Finals (26.5 PPG), that isn’t enough to stay safe for a player of his caliber. As often as the public brings up LeBron’s pathetic fourth quarter, Wade should take equal blame. During those six fourth quarters, Wade dropped seven, six, seven, seven, ten, and four points, respectively. That scoring line wasn’t going to cut it. He needed to elevate his game to epic levels in order to compensate for LeBron’s inexplicable absence, not stand there helplessly waiting for the so-called “King” to arrive.
This lack of desire to single-handedly take control has continued and become more evident today.
“For our team to be as successful as we need to be, we need him to be the best player in the world,” D-Wade said recently, as we covered in a recent Smack.
For Wade to make this open admission, it’s universally unethical in basketball circles. No great player in their right mind would ever yield their status to another, teammate or not. That’s like Shaq or Kobe having such an acknowledgement to the other — it wasn’t, isn’t and shouldn’t happen. Not even Russell Westbrook would genuinely cede his standing to Durantula as they’re playing together, especially not after his 43-point onslaught in Game 4. Self-belief is the single vice that matters most in a hooper.
The Finals stats Wade has posted thus far are irrelevant. Nobody is going to remember what he did against the Thunder because LeBron has taken over. He seems perfectly fine taking a backseat as the world witnesses LeBron take a seat on his long-awaited throne. At age 30, it doesn’t make sense for Wade to defer to someone else while he’s still in his prime. He should want to closeout the Finals with the same reckless abandon he did in 2006. Hell, all he has to do is look over to Westbrook for a reminder.
As the Heat are on the brink of a second franchise title, D-Wade isn’t the focal point or the driving force behind this Finals clincher. Once upon a time, Dwyane Wade transformed himself to Flash. He let us imagine the next Jordan or Kobe came from the CHI. This time, he’s a sidekick to the real superheroes stealing the show.
Within the next week or so, go get a lineup or a cut at your local barbershop. Listen to the debates taken place… and for the omission of Wade’s name.
Does Wade’s legacy need another memorable Finals performance?
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