I need someone to help me understand something. The Miami Heat are such an incredibly bad team right now, that much has been well documented. They are being spanked by the Celtics as we speak after being down by 30 points in the second quarter. THE SECOND QUARTER! I don’t remember seeing a deficit that big so early in a game ever. But anyway, I’ve seen enough Heat games (thank you ESPN) to know how crap they are. I understand this. But I am struggling to understand something else – why is Dwyane Wade immune to criticism despite the Heat’s woeful performance this season? If you’re a Wade fan you might wanna stop reading this blog right now cos I’m just about to skull a litre of Hatorade..
Wade is the unquestionable leader of this Heat team. It is not Shaq – the Big Diesel said so himself the first year he joined Miami. Wade is also unquestionably the Heat’s best player, and one of the best players in the league. It was less than two years ago when many experts had him as the leagues #1 player thanks to his dismantling of the Detroit Pistons and then Dallas Mavericks in the ‘06 Finals, snatching a Finals MVP along the way when Shaq could barely average 15 points. Dwyane Wade is The Man, or at least he was supposed to be.
But for some strange reason, when the Heat are stinking it up like few teams have before, when they go on ridiculous losing streaks that stretch back to weeks so long ago I can barely remember how old I was, when they constantly turn in lousy fourth-quarter performances that would make Vince Carter seem clutch… when all that happens, Dwyane wade escapes criticism, the finger gets pointed at others (Shaq, Riley), Wade still gets voted to an All-Star team, and I still have to listen to people tell me he’s up there with Kobe, Duncan, Nash, Lebron and *gasp* Jordan.
When the Cavs slipped to five games under .500 you heard whispers about Lebron’s inability to carry his team. When Kobe guided a mediocre Lakers team to 42-odd wins last year I had to put up with people telling me “he’ll never be a true MVP with that many wins”. In the last couple of years you’ve heard KG get slammed for failing to get his T-Wolves into the playoffs. A player’s inability to “carry a team” is like a black mark against their name. But God forbid us calling out Dwyane Wade as a failed leader. You just can’t touch D-Wade.
And why the hell not? When I put this to my Heat-supporting friends I usually get one of the following two responses
1) “Wade is playing hurt man, he’s not 100%… how’s he supposed to be at his best?” Newsflash: Most players in the NBA are playing hurt, and it’s not a real excuse. If he’s on the court, he’s your man. It’s so convenient that after the Bulls sweep of the Heat in last year’s playoffs it could be easily explained as “Wade was only playing at 80%”. Wah wah someone call a freaken Wahmbulance. How bout we give the Bulls some cred for smashing the reigning champs? How bout we give Wade a dose of Chopper and tell him to “harden the f-ck up”
2) “Dude, Wade is doing everything he can on the court, it’s not his fault we stink”. Again, why the hell not? Can you imagine what would happen if it was Lebron, Nash or Kobe in Wade’s position? Can you imagine the media bashing that would take place if either of those guys’ teams was headed for a 15-67 season? In fact I can’t even imagine, and you know why? I don’t think any of those guys could let their teams get that bad. And don’t tell me Wade has a worse supporting cast, cos I don’t believe you. Udonis Haslem, Jason Williams, Ricky Davis, Shaq, Wright, Blount are no worse than Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Chris Mihm, etc from the Lakers two years ago when Kobe hauled them to the playoffs. There’s no way I could see a team lead by Kobe, Lebron or Nash getting to this point. Nash would have everyone around him looking like All-Stars, Lebron would push his Oscar Robertson impersonations to the limit, and Kobe would go on a stupid 50 point scoring tear.
What does Dwyane Wade do? Not a whole lot. His 25ppg and 6.7 assists aren’t that impressive considering what the Heat need from him now. If Dwyane Wade was that good, why isn’t he going for 50 every night out of desperation? Why isn’t he carrying his team to victory in those fourth quarters instead of watching his team choke? And how come through all of this, Dwyane Wade is seemingly still the nice guy who is doing everything within his powers for his team? I don’t get it. At some point along the line Wade became the NBA’s untouchable darling child, more so than Lebron. At least when Lebron misses a game winner or loses a playoff series you see the doubters surfacing, same for Kobe. But Wade is immune to it all.
So do yourself a favour. Don’t blame coach Riley for the Heat’s woeful record. Don’t blame Shaq for his seeming lack of effort, don’t blame the lousy supporting cast and don’t blame ESPN when they show too many crappy Heat games. Blame Dwyane Wade for pulling the wool over our eyes when this whole Miami mess is partly his to clean up. I can see you Dwyane Wade. You ain’t fooling me.
UPDATE 31/1: So we learn Dwyane Wade was suffering flu-like symptoms against the Celtics yesterday. Poor Dwyane. According to Coach Riley, “He’s sick…. Sick as a dog. Probably sick and tired.” Well I’m sure Lebron is sick and tired of Larry Hughes shooting 2-11 but I don’t hear him complaining (although he doesn’t have to thanks to my favourite website right now). What was he sick and tired of anyway? The fact he can’t lead his team to a W? Yeah, probably best to just leave the game in the 3rd quarter when the damage has been done. HTFU Dwyane Wade.