For the past two years the debate has raged on. Who is the best player in the NBA? The consensus has usually thrown two names out there, and those names are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
I will agree that Bryant and James are the No. 1 and No. 2. But now that leads to another debate. Who is No. 3?
The quick and easy answer would be Chris Paul. He was runner-up in the MVP voting and took his franchise, the New Orleans Hornets, to heights no one expected them to reach.
Kevin Garnett of the champion Celtics would be another easy answer.
The problem is I am not looking for the easy answer. I want the right answer. That right answer is Dwyane Wade.
You may be asking yourself, "Is he talking about the same Dwyane Wade that only played in 51 games for the 15-win Miami Heat?" Yes, that is the man I am talking about.
Throughout this past season I was a D-Wade hater. I was telling everyone I could that he was the next Penny Hardaway. He had so much talent but would always get injured after his shoulder was ripped up.
I must admit I also didn’t show enough respect for his performance in the 2006 Finals because I thought Dallas was softer than a kid at a Laguna Beach house party.
Soft or not, he averaged 34.7 points per game and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field. Those are amazing numbers. He single-handedly ripped the Mavericks' hearts out like the Mayan kingdom in Apocalypto.
When Wade has been healthy he was been a staple on SportsCenter. If you think Chris Paul's lay up against the Spurs in the playoffs this year was nice, well Wade has about 20 highlights like that.
He always knows where the basket is and goes so hard. That is why he has been so injury prone. When you play that hard, stuff happens. The crazy thing is that he was playing that hard for a team that sucked.
Numbers usually talk for players and Wade has those, too. For his career he is averaging nearly 24 points a game while shooting 48 percent from the field. The crazy thing is that he averaged seven assists a game this year. Only Allen Iverson and LeBron James put up 24 and seven.
Oh yeah, he also averages about five rebounds per game.
The main reason I am bringing up D-Wade is that people need to be ready for him this year. I have been watching every game that Team USA has played and he looks like the best player on the floor by far. He has been hitting the weights extremely hard and that has elevated his game to new heights.
He is jumping higher than I have ever seen him. He is faster than almost everyone on the court and that includes point guards Paul and Deron Williams.
Let me not forget about the nasty crossover in the game. He has crossed over defenders countless times during these games and made them look foolish.
On the defensive side of the ball he has also put in the effort. He is all over the court and is playing with the same intensity as a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament. Did I mention Wade is putting up all of these stats coming off of the bench. Dwyane Wade, a sixth man?
That is what I call heart. He wants the gold.
So when discussing the best in the league, don’t be afraid to throw No. 3 of the Heat in the top three. All I know is that he is in my fave five, Charles’ fave five, and USA basketball's top six.
NBA Analyst Mathew Borges contributed to this report.
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