With another MVP-caliber season likely under his belt, LeBron James hasn’t just taken over the National Basketball Association (NBA) but apparently the Miami Heat as well. James’ herculean campaign has manifested itself into a redemption season after a flat-faced NBA Finals performance last June. But as James has rebirthed himself, has he officially taken the lead as the Heat’s leader over longtime star guard Dwyane Wade? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate.

Riley: The Heat is 12-1 without Wade this season and without the burden of the obvious aging superstar on his side, James has been fully able to flash the same form that made him a living legend in Cleveland. Last season was a feeler for all those involved with the Miami project. James and fellow co-star forward Chris Bosh were new to the team so Wade had to remain the focal point. But this season, with Wade often hobbled, James has emerged as the go-to guy on the team.

Green: Don’t let the regular season heroics fool you. This team will go only as far as Wade can guide them. Yes, he’s been hurt but the 30 year-old shooting guard normally saves his best for the post-season. And after last summer’s disappearing act, those horrifying late-game moments against Dallas will forever haunt James. Wade has never been the picture of health but I’m willing to bet the chips on him come playoff time. With James, well, not so much.

Riley: LeBron’s disappearance was inexplicable and I won’t even try to make amends for that. But this season, he’s been the man. Period. Will it launch him into a post-season tear? Who knows? But let’s not act like James didn’t annihilate Boston and Chicago in the prior rounds before the Finals last season. Things always come full circle and I’m sure James will correct the picture in a few weeks.

You can’t possibly expect Wade to shoulder the load this summer when he hasn’t been able to shoulder the load all season. Wade’s a Hall of Famer but James is the key to success for the Miami Heat.

Green: James is an important piece, but in the end, Wade will be the one that will ultimately decide whether or not the Heat hoist this season’s trophy. James’ 2010 proclamation that the Heat is scheduled to win several championships will never reign true simply because I can’t see Wade recapturing his former self beyond this season. This isn’t to say Wade doesn’t need James or vice versa but if you’re asking who needs to be at their best come playoff times, it’s Wade.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk