Ever since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, the pecking order — in most basketball experts’ eyes — was always Wade first, James second, and Bosh third.
Now that LeBron has a full season under his belt as a member of the Heat, is there a changing of the guard? Wade believes so.
In Miami’s 87-70 victory over the New York Knicks Thursday night that gave the Heat a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, Wade called his teammate and good friend LeBron — who scored 32 points, including eight straight to start the fourth quarter to break open the game — “the best player in the game.”
Wade’s exact quote was: ”We had the lead going into the fourth quarter on the road, and then we had the best player in the game coming in. So we were fine.”
All this time, we all thought Wade was Batman while LeBron was Robin. LeBron certainly didn’t look like Batman in the 2011 NBA Finals when he couldn’t solve the riddle of fourth quarter. But Wade finally set the record straight by declaring LeBron the Heat’s No. 1 player. It’s an incredible admission because Wade is Mr. Heat. He is the one with the championship ring, not LeBron. He’s the one who is known for clutch shots, not LeBron.
But Wade seems to be willing to take a secondary role to make sure LeBron takes the lead role. And Wade is not the only member of the Heat who endorses LeBron as the best player in the game and the MVP of the league for the third time. “I think he’s the best player in basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said back in February.
Wade and Spoelstra are obviously trying to motivate James to be the driving force of the Miami Heat because the team is a lot better when he’s aggressive instead of passive, which he was last season at times.
James was crucified last season for his fourth-quarter meltdowns, and probably deserved a lot of it because he invited the harsh criticism for the way he left Cleveland and the brash statements he made when he joined the Heat. He heard all the “choke” jokes all summer, he heard it in the fall, he heard it during winter, and he still hearing it in the spring. But through the first week of the NBA playoffs, James is off to a phenomenal start and appears to be locked in.
But James knows that to be considered the king of the NBA, he has to win a championship. Anything less than a title will be considered another monumental meltdown.