Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will always be linked by their circumstances.
Both drafted in the stellar 2003 draft class, James was the sure-thing, franchise savior, while Wade was the flash-in-the-pan wild card.
If someone had told you in June 2003 that Wade would win a ring before James, you probably would have laughed, but here we are.
There's no doubt that, along with Chris Paul, Kobe, and Dwight Howard, they are the face of the NBA superstar today.They will probably both be at the forefront of the MVP debate in the next month, and either one could win it.
But both men are starting to get a more dubious distinction: The darling of each and every NBA referee.
It's starting to get ridiculous.
As a Mavericks fan, I'm well aware of what the referees can do to affect the outcome of a series.
And I think come this year's playoffs, we'll get an even more shining example of it from LeBron.
If you're the Cavaliers, and you have the ball with the shot clock off and you're down by one or two, the play call is simple. Give it to LeBron, and have him go to the rack.
He'll draw a foul every time. And I mean Every. Single. Time.
Let's take a look at some of the games in 2009 where James has won them on questionable calls.
March 1 against the Hawks. The Hawks are tied 87-87 with the LeBrons. LeBron gets the ball, gets the call, and sinks the game-winning free throws.
March 17, against the Magic. LeBron is "fouled" in an 93-95 game by Courtney Lee, and he ices the game.
In fact, it's become much more notable when LeBron doesn't get the call, as evidenced by the huge tantrums he and his coach threw after the loss to the Pacers (when LeBron was bailed out, and then called a few seconds later when he actually did commit the foul) or the Wizards (which brought the term "crab dribble" to our attention).
Those are just the games in my memory. Can you imagine what will happen when LeBron gets to the playoffs?
He'll shoot 30 free throws a game.
Dwyane Wade seems to also be back in the ref's good graces, as evidenced by the travesty yesterday against the Pistons.
With the game tied at 89, Wade flops like a fish on Rodney Stuckey, and gets two free throws for his trouble.
A minute or so later, Wade "blocks" Aaron Afflalo's three-point jumper. And by block, and mean make contact with his forearm and Afflalo's forearm, while Afflalo was still in the shooting motion.
Wait, that's not the definition of "block?" That's right, you'll find that under the word "foul."
But it's not over yet. Detroit still has a chance to win, thanks to a Hermann three-pointer.
Rodney Stuckey drives to the hoop, is contacted by Wade's body, and is then absolutely mugged by Wade, but no call, Wade gets the ball, and game is over, thanks to a double T on Curry.
It sure will be interesting to watch during the playoffs. What happens when Bron Bron and Wade play each other? Who will the refs pick? Will they both shoot 30 FTs a game?
It must be nice to get sent to the line every time someone breathes on you wrong. As for the rest of the teams, good luck. You're going to need it, especially in the East.