Monday, November 14, 2011

These Are The Moments... The Miami Heat

Recently on Twitter I declared that in terms of both on court brilliance and general persona, Dwyane Wade is the coolest NBAer I’ve ever seen. He not only makes jawdropping plays on a regular basis, but seldom, if ever, looks like a douche in his reactions and celebrations. Though not particularly relevant in any tangible sense, when one sets about identifying the greatest highlights in NBA history, it places Wade atop the list. This, along with Wade’s status as one of few old-school, one-team superstars (haven’t thought it all the way through, but I love Hakeem Olajuwon as a comp- and no, I haven’t forgotten Dream's brief stint in Toronto), distinguishes him from most NBA players, including a certain teammate with whom he is inextricably linked.

LeBron James is the superior basketball player, as spectacular a highlight factory as there is and hardly the recipient of a cold reception upon his arrival in Miami. With that said, the relationship that Dwyane Wade shares with the city and pre-Decision Heat fans is a special one, one possible only through time and a shared journey- apologies in advance for trotting out this exhausted storyline- one precisely like that left behind in Cleveland by LeBron James.

Not making value judgments, just stating what’s so. These are Dwyane Wade’s people. And like D-Wade’s unflappable coolness, this doesn’t manifest itself in the form of wins and losses, but if you need a highlight kicked up from spectacular to sublime…

Dwyane Wade destroys Anderson Varejao

You could feel the momentum building as he crossed halfcourt.

Once at the 3-point line, you could see the lane. Too bad Anderson Varejao is either going to foul him or force him to pull up.

When Varejao takes a step back as Wade knifes into the lane, you know something's up.

But he's too far away, and there's still a sizable Brazilian in the way.

Wait, a second... is he?? He’s not… Oh shit, he is!

Andy. Baptized.

Between the sound of the rim, the explosion of the crowd, Marv Albert’s call, a rare broadcasting value-add by Reggie Miller and Wade stepping over a splattered Varejao, this is an all-timer.

Plus, LeBron-haters will surely enjoy Wade’s “That’s how you do it!” dig in response to LBJ’s unsuccessful throwdown attempt on Jermaine O’Neal.

Fun for the whole family.

Dwyane Wade informs the Bulls of his real estate holdings

Was this not a pretty clear indicator of Dwyane Wade’s commitment to Miami and the Heat?

I’ll undoubtedly be accused of playing the result here, but I thought this (admittedly I thought the same about LeBron James) at the time as well.

Sure it went down in 2009 and not 2010, but it had long been known that the Chicago Bulls, Wade’s hometown team, would be among his most aggressive suitors the following summer. Burying a game-winner against them on the home floor they’d soon try to convince him to abandon, and topping it off with screams of “This is my house?” Just sayin…

Not buying it, huh?

In that case, this is just a standard steal/running-one-legged-three combo. To win a game. In double overtime.

Wade-to-LeBron on a flawless 90-foot alley oop

Two days after Valentine’s Day 2011, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James authored a love letter to the game.

Forget NBAers, are there a half dozen NFL quarterbacks you’d bet on to make this pass?

I’ve tried (and failed) on multiple occasions to accurately sum up my feelings on this play. This is basketball perfection. Maybe the greatest off-the-cuff play in NBA history. Moments like this are what make sports the greatest reality programming on television.

LeBron scores 10 straight to bury the Celtics in 2011

Humor me for a moment and forget LeBron James’ woeful underperformance in the 2011 Finals. Thanks.

In the aftermath of The Debacle, many criticisms were fired at LBJ:

He can’t close out a game- he’ll defer to Dwyane Wade. He can’t come through when it counts. He can’t get past the Boston Celtics. His Heat, losers of three of four regular season meetings, can’t get past Boston.

With 10 points (and a fantastic steal) in the final 135 seconds, LeBron did more than turn a tie game into a comfortable victory- he came through in the clutch, against the Celtics, in a closeout game, with Dwyane Wade on the floor. In other words, this was the moment in which LeBron James looked his detractors in the eye and answered every criticism. And made it look pretty damn cool.

Some will argue (rightfully so, perhaps) that this is invalidated by the way Miami’s postseason ultimately played out. Most will agree. But don’t forget what you were thinking as you watched this.

Dwyane Wade's over-the-head flip and-1 against Detroit in 2006

Up 2-1 in a best-of-seven against the two-time conference champions, with a Game 5 on the road looming, and leading by a point with just under a quarter remaining. If you like your spectacular with a healthy dollop of high stakes, this is totally your scene. Stakes ceased to matter, however, once Gary Payton worked the ball to Dwyane Wade on the right wing.

Marvel at the incredible strides Wade uses in attacking the lane (possibly traveling, but this one of the less egregious tie-goes-to-the-runner calls he’d get that spring; either way, incredible) and the amazing fluidity and body control he uses in slithering through four members of the defensive stalwart Pistons.

This is the signature moment of Miami’s 2006 title run.

As always, I'd really love to hear from you. Let me know what you think by chiming in on the highlights I’ve put forth, or supplying your own. I not only welcome your feedback, I eagerly await it.

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