The Coronation of Dwayne Wade
Five years ago I remember staying up late to catch Marquette's appearance in the Alaska Shootout. One player jumped out at me. A skinny guy with long arms, Dwayne Wade didn't really dominate the game but he showed a sort of electric quality that made me think he was a player to be watched. In fact I remember telling my brother he looked like the new Sidney Moncrief.
To be honest, I thought I was out on a limb when I said that. It turned out I was on the safest branch on the tree. Little did I know that night was my first look at the man who would soon inherit the crown that once belonged to Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player on Earth.
In boxing they have the mythical "pound-for-pound" title bestowed by Ring Magazine on the fighter considered the best in the world regardless of weight class. If the same existed in basketball, last night Dwayne Wade ascended to the throne. His domination of these finals has been almost surreal. He is willing his team to a championship when it once seemed almost a mortal certainty they would be swept.
The Mavericks, who by all accounts have a good defense, are utterly powerless to stop this great player. Its almost as if, like that Hearst guy on HBO's Deadwood, Wade has said to the Mavericks, "This is my will, and you will bend to it."
If they put a quicker man on him, he simply shoots over the poor schmuck. If they put a bigger man on him, he blows by him and gets to the rim before the defensive help can react. And even when the help is on time, he has an uncanny ability to split through and either get the hoop, get some harm, or get the hoop and some harm. At this point in his career, he cannot be stopped. His will be done.
And so he is now King. But how long live the King? Not long I'm afraid. Dwayne Wade plays the game with an all-out attacking style that is great to watch and admire, but does not make for a long career. The punishment he willingly subjects himself to in his fervish quest to win cannot be endured long without the body breaking down. Look at him now. Just to play each game he has to wrap himself up like a mummy.
Thus what I think we are seeing in Wade is not a star but a white hot comet. Like his nick-namesake, 'The Flash', Wade seems destined to be remembered as a spectacular sight that disappeared way too soon. He is to basketball, in other words, what Koufax was to baseball or Jim Brown to football. He will burn brightly but too quickly flame out; there is no chance he will fade away.
Appreciate what you are seeing while it is still in sight. The land once again has a king.