LeBron James may be the body of the Miami Heat, and what an otherworldly body he is, especially on a night such as Thursday, when his muscle and nerve overwhelmed the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs.
But Dwyane Wade will always be the soul of the Miami Heat.
James is an import, a merger acquisition, some would say a mercenary. A Best Actor who needed an adroit supporting cast. A king in search of a throne.
Wade was groomed here and bloomed here, maturing from shy kid to thoughtful superstar, style icon and devoted father. He was Shaquille O'Neal's "little brother" and Pat Riley's protégé. He led the Heat to its championship in 2006 by averaging 34.7 points in phenomenal performances as NBA Finals MVP.
He weathered the lean years, and, in 2010-2011, the mean year, when the Big Three's pre-celebration of multiple titles was maliciously mocked.
In this, the Heat's self-proclaimed "no excuses" year, Wade has flickered while James has burned. In the postseason Wade has been inconsistent, hurt, angry and disengaged. In the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, tied 3-3 going into Saturday's decisive Game 7, he has been a slow starter and an unreliable finisher.
Wade hasn't been himself.
But the Heat's second do-or-die test within 48 hours could summon vintage Wade, the twirling, curling, whirling dervish. The time is ripe to see Wade put balls in the basket the way chefs put eggs in a bowl – either with a gentle flourish or an authoritative crack.
Game 7 should bring out best in Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade
Miami Herald | Jun 9