Has LeBron James Surpassed Dwyane Wade As Greatest Miami Heat Star Ever?

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIJuly 3, 2013

LeBron James has led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals during each of his three seasons in South Beach.

He has earned league MVP honors twice during that time before cashing in two of those trips with an NBA title. During each of his championship-winning runs with the Heat, James has also been named MVP of the finals.

But while James has entered a two-person discussion for greatest Miami Heat star ever because of all that, he's not yet surpassed Dwyane Wade.

After being selected by the Heat with the fifth overall pick in 2003, Wade first led Miami to a championship in 2006 with a dominating performance that nobody expected. He then welcomed James to Miami by helping him win two more titles in 2012 and 2013. 

In addition to the three championships he's won for Miami during his 10-year career, Wade also leads his organization in all-time points, assists and steals.

Even though James is still capable of one day surpassing Wade as the best to ever wear a Heat uniform, it's still Wade County down in Miami for now. 


Miami Wasn't Supposed to Win in 2006

Unlike the last two Miami Heat championships, Dwyane Wade wasn't expected to lead his team to an NBA title when the 2005-06 campaign began.

Wade, heading into his third season, was considered an up-and-coming superstar at that time. He was coming off a year in 2004-05 when he made his first All-Star team. There was no question that Wade was good, but he had not yet proven to the NBA world that he was in fact great.

During the 2006 NBA Finals specifically, the Heat opened the series by losing the first two games to the Dallas Mavericks. Wade then responded by scoring 42, 36, 43 and 36 points respectively in each of the next four games to eliminate the Mavs in six. 

In doing so, Wade laid the foundation for the dynasty that would emerge years later with the arrival of James and Chris Bosh.

Wade Had a Hand in Winning the Last 2 Titles

LeBron James has been the best player on the NBA's best team over the last two seasons. This much isn't up for debate. 

But while Dwyane Wade's postseason scoring production slipped to 15.9 points in 2013, below his career-playoff average of 23.7, this shouldn't dismiss the impact he's had over the last three years.

In helping the Heat position themselves for a postseason run, Wade has averaged 23.1 points in the regular season since teaming up with James in 2010.

During each of the Heat's two previous trips to the playoffs, he also averaged 22.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while securing a title in 2012 along with 24.5 and 7.1 in the losing effort of 2011.

In doing so, Wade now stands alone among Miami's Big Three as the only member to win three championships.

The Heat's All-Time Leader in Points, Assists and Steals Is Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade is a Hall of Famer who has spent all 10 seasons of his NBA career with the Miami Heat.

That much still means something to fans, especially in a league where superstars seem to change teams on a moment's notice. 

Drafted as a player who first broke onto the national stage during an NCAA tournament run at Marquette, Wade developed into the superstar he is from within the Heat's organization.

Along the way, according to BasketballReference.com, Wade has scored 16,453 career points, dished out 4,049 assists and accounted for 1,183 steals to lead Miami in each category.

Alonzo Mourning is the next leading scorer in a Heat uniform, after Wade, with 9,459 points. Tim Hardaway dished out 2,867 dimes to rank No. 2 assists, while Grant Long ranks second with 666 steals.  

James Would Need to Keep Winning Big to Eventually Surpass Wade

If LeBron James repeats his performance of winning the league's MVP, NBA championship and finals MVP for a third time, he would have the opportunity to surpass Wade as the greatest Miami Heat player ever. 

This would be especially possible if Wade's production continues to slip like it did during the 2013 playoffs.

Ultimately, though, James will need to help Miami win at least as many titles as Wade.

Thus far, the Heat have won three as an organization, and Dwyane Wade's name has been on that banner each time.