Stat line: 35 minutes, 10-22 FG, 29 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals.
The 2012-13 NBA season kicked off last night and featured some great performances. Reigning MVP LeBron James scored 26 points pulled down 10 rebounds for the Miami Heat before sitting out most of the second half with leg cramps, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao had the game of a lifetime, scoring nine points and dishing out nine assists while pulling down an astounding 23 rebounds against the Washington Wizards.
However, the top dog of the night was Dwyane Wade, as he fought off a late charge by the Boston Celtics and reestablished himself as the true leader of the Miami Heat while leading his team to victory.
Look at it this way. The Heat-Celtics game had a lot of drama going into it last night, from Ray Allen's frosty relationship with his former team to the fact that it was a matchup of the two teams that faced each other in last year's East Finals, in which Miami won in seven games.
As a result, the game was intense from start to finish, and when James headed to the locker room in the fourth quarter, Wade had no choice but to show fans and players alike why Miami is his town and his alone.
He only scored nine points in the fourth quarter, but Wade did a great job of keeping his team together even in the midst of a 14-3 run by Boston. His defense was as pesky as it's ever been and even caused him to be on the wrong side of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's temper, drawing a flagrant foul in the game's final moments. In response, Wade just smiled and sank both technical free throws soon after.
Miami's 120-107 victory proved that while having James in the lineup is all well and good, Wade is still their favorite son and that he deserves his due credit for the team's success the past couple of years. His scoring his 15,000th point was another key highlight of the evening and further ensures that he will almost certainly end his career in South Beach and have his numbers raised to the rafters one day.
That being said, while James and Varejao both had fine games in their own right, Wade was still the best of the evening. He is the unquestioned leader of the Miami Heat, and while they would still be a very good team without him, they just wouldn't have the same luster.