If anyone thought LeBron James was going to win this NBA title without getting some serious help from Dwyane Wade and to a lesser degree, Chris Bosh, game 4, which produced another lopsided win in an NBA finals series filled with them, proved that the champions are still at their best when one of the only two-time champions on the roster forgets about his injuries and plays like the superstar he is less and less these days.
When the Big Three score 85 points, there’s not much left to do. James took over in the final minutes after Wade already made sure the Spurs weren’t cutting down the lead to single-digits. James did finish with 33 points in the 109-93 win, but it was Wade’s 32 on somewhat of resurgence night for him that meant the most. Chris Bosh scoring 20 had its impact, to be sure, but he just follows the lead of the other two at his current capacity on the team.
But Wade is important in more than just being the key to Miami solving the problem of the San Antonio Spurs defense. That also had to do with Erik Spoelstra giving up on the two-bigs solution that he was forced to use against the Indiana Pacers, and revert back to his favorite lineups, which include Chris Bosh and four different players who can hit shots from the outside. It means Ray Allen playing 33 minutes, and it means Mike Miller spending a lot of time on the court, even if he doesn’t take shots (only one field goal attempts in game 4).
Wade is here to be overlooked. From a player constantly mentioned in the NBA’s top 5, the moment LeBron James stepped in South Beach Wade’s overall worth declined. There was no way around it, although it took time. There couldn’t be a situation with two stars at the same level of importance on a team, which was part of the reason they looked so confused in the 2011 finals. Things got sorted out a year later, as Wade paved the way for James to take over the team and lead them to a championship.
But it doesn’t mean James can do it on his own. While he’s fully capable of pulling off 30-35 point nights, it only works in certain ways to the benefit of the team. And the Spurs have shown that without the Miami Heat generating enough of a consistent outside shooting threat, James’ ability are greatly diminished.
Everyone’s waiting around the corner for James. Public perception is decided by the mainstream media. Just like when they made him the most hated athlete in the United States for a foolish reason, one title and one year apart from losing the final he was adores and praised once more. And that’s the difference between getting the love or getting criticized way more than you deserve – being a winner and a champion.
And for that, for James to remain on the better side of the neutrals who only care about joining the bandwagon, no matter where it’s going, Wade needs to continue to be great. Not necessarily 32 points-kind of great, but someone the Spurs continue to fear in both his ability to beat his man by dribbling his way to the paint, or respect his ability to hit shots from a bit further away. After all, if Wade continues to be this good, the talks of LeBron James being as great or even better than Michael Jordan will only become more prominent. Ability and talent don’t matter. It’s only the championships you win, and the story people decide to tell about you.