Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade Wins NBA Player of the Night with Monstrous Return vs. Bucks

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat drives around Ersan Ilyasova #7 of the Milwaukee Bucks  during a game  at AmericanAirlines Arena on November 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

Who's too old and injury prone to play at an All-Star level now?

Not Dwyane Wade.

On a night when Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers had a triple-double with 11 blocks and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers put up an astounding 38 points, Wade made a thunderous return to the Miami Heat's lineup after missing two games with a sprained left foot.

No, the game against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn't always pretty for Miami, but it was for Wade. His performance helped propel the Heat to an overtime victory and left little doubt as to whether he could step up his production this season.

Stat Line: 28 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals on 52.4 percent shooting.

The Bucks have been a force to be reckoned with this season.

Not only are Brandon Jennings and company currently atop the Central Division, but they won six of their first eight games before losing their past two.

When stacked up against the Heat, however, they are clearly an inferior team. Yet they didn't play like it Wednesday night.

Milwaukee overcame an atrocious outing from Monta Ellis to force Miami into overtime after trailing by as many as 18 points.

But the Heat weren't about to let this one get away—Wade was not about to let this one get away.

On the surface, this game would have merely been a fourth blemish on a relatively impressive record. Delve deeper, though, and you realize such a loss would have sparked an unruly slew of criticism.

The Big Three would have been considered complacent. Erik Spoelstra's job may have been called for. Wade would be deemed one of the team's weaker links.

Wait, what?

Miami was 2-0 in Wade's absence, Spoelstra himself was stressing the importance of Chris Bosh and the shooting guard himself was putting up lukewarm numbers in the midst of what appeared to be a losing bout with injuries.

Somehow, after nearly a decade of star-studded services, the athletic phenomenon was steadily being underestimated; his importance to the team was slowly being discounted.

Wade, however, put any and all doubt surrounding not just his worth to the Heat, but his abilities as a player to bed against the Bucks.

It's not just that he dropped 28 points, it's that he did it shooting a ridiculous 52-plus percent from the field. It's that he did it in a game where Miami seemed headed for a collapse. It's that he did it in his first game back from injury, while logging nearly 38 minutes of burn in the process.

Like it or not, there is going to come a time when Wade can't do it anymore, when he can't do this anymore. And after getting off to the worst start since his rookie season, the time for a steep decline in production and athleticism had seemingly come.

Except it hasn't.

Wade wasted no time reestablishing his rhythm and looked anything but timid while on the basketball court. He matched LeBron James point for point, dealt out a few stylish dimes of his own as well and played suffocating perimeter defense all night.

This was just one game, but it meant more than a single win or loss. This was a chance for Wade to prove he still had plenty of NBA gas left in the tank, to prove he was still a superstar, notions some people appeared to have forgot.

No, Wade is never going to be the most durable of players. He's flies through the air more often than most pilots, so that' simply not an option. But even at 30, he remains one of the most prolific players in the game.

He is still more than a mere complementary piece to a star-laden roster.

He is still much more than his early-season struggles suggest.

He is still a superstar.

Just ask the Bucks.

 

 

All stats in this article are accurate as of November 22nd, 2012.

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