Nine seconds left, and the Miami Heat down by one. Miami’s point guard sets up to inbound the ball but who does he throw it to? His options are both plentiful and enviable.

In one corner: a two-time MVP. A league scoring champion and hands down the most gifted athlete in the game. In the other corner: another league scoring champion—but a NBA Finals MVP and an NBA title holder.

Truthfully, both the first choice, LeBron James, and the second, Dwyane Wade, would be ideal targets in any scenario. But considering that both now play for the same team, the ball can only go one way.

Every team has to have a leader—or does it? So whose team is it in Miami: Dwyane Wade’s or LeBron James’? Or can they share the spotlight? AFRO Sports writers Perry Green (PG) and Stephen D. Riley (SDR) decide.

PG: When it was Wade’s team, the Boston Celtics eliminated them in the first round, 4-1. It’s now Wade and James’ team; not either or. Wade needs James just as much as James needs Wade if they wish to dethrone the best. It’s going to be three kings out in Miami and they’re going to win multiple titles. Like James said: “Not one, not two, not three, not four,” etc.

SDR: Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all fine and dandy but every team needs a go-to guy and when the going gets tough, the ball is going to be in Wade’s hands. He’s proven he can carry a team to the Finals. To James’ credit, he did as well. His playoff performance in 2007 was remarkable—but Wade did it in the Finals and won a title shouldering the load. It’s Wade’s team.

PG: Wade has gone on record to say “this is our team” and he welcomed a two-time MVP because he knew “his team” couldn’t get out of the first round. The last time Wade won anything, Miami was Shaquille O’Neal’s team and Wade was the sidekick. And don’t give me that “look what Wade did in the Finals” talk. Even Kobe Bryant outperformed O’Neal in the Finals but it was still Shaq’s team. Ginobli and Parker outplayed Duncan in the ‘07 Finals but it was still Duncan’s team.

SDR: First of all, that ‘06 Miami team was Wade’s team; O’Neal was just the bigger name. Wade led that team in scoring 58 times in the regular season that year. Led the team in scoring, assists and steals in both the regular and postseason that year. Led the team in scoring in 18 out of 23 playoff games during their run and led the team in scoring in each game of the Finals. If that doesn’t qualify it being “Wade’s team” that season, then I don’t know what does.

PG: Shaq averaged 22 points and nine rebounds that season. He helped get them there. Wade wouldn’t have gotten there without him. Wade hasn’t proven he can win without an MVP on his squad… and you know what? I’m not expecting him to, because no matter how much the fans and media try to spin things; no team has won an NBA title without multiple stars. Wade welcomed the addition of a two-time MVP because he knew “his team” couldn’t get out of the first round.

SDR: Wade hasn’t proven he can win without an MVP? Uh…what MVP was on that ’06 Miami team? Shaq? Are you serious? 22 points and nine rebounds in the regular season and 13 points and 10 rebounds in the Finals isn’t MVP-anything. In that case, didn’t James have both O’Neal and a 20 and 10 guy in Antawn Jamison on his team last year? Throw in Mo Williams, an All-Star in ’09, and James still couldn’t get out the second round. The team Wade has had in Miami the past two seasons wouldn’t beat the last two NCAA champs without Wade playing. Nine seconds left, the ball is going to Wade without question. Spare me the details. You give Wade anything remotely close to a team and it’s curtains.

PG: It’s a given that both these players (James and Wade) are going to be the main attractions but it’s not Wade’s team anymore. It’s Wade and James’ team. A Wade-led team wouldn’t have made this much noise in the media. A Wade-led team wouldn’t have half the world envious. To me, it’s the difference between being the primary weapon or the leader calling the shots and directing the weapons. James has always been the ball distributor-type in my eyes. We can call James the leader and Wade the primary weapon. Cool?

SDR: Cool. I can live with that.

 

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk