When LeBron James took his "talents to South Beach" there was much debate as to who would be the alpha dog. There was a strange dynamic that we had never really faced before, even with the Boston Celtics forming the "Big Three" just a few years prior. There were two superstars, easily both top-five players joining forces both who had made a title run in the past five years as "the Man". Everyone talked about whether this was "LeBron's team" or "Wade's Team". No one knew who was going to take the lead.
LeBron began the season timid. He was coming to Miami. For the first time in his life he was out of his comfort zone of Ohio and people were angry. He was coming to someone else's team. Wade was established as the face of the Miami Heat. James was an outsider. He didn't have that chemistry that he had with the Cleveland Cavaliers and was finding it hard to find his role. He played best when Wade was on the bench.
Dwayne Wade began the season timid. He had invited his friends to Miami. He had played with a star before with Shaquille O'Neal but this was different. James was the "Chosen One." Shaq was on the decline and by the time the NBA Finals rolled around in 2005-06, Shaq took a backseat. Wade had just invited the one guy in the league who may have been superior to him athletically. He wanted to make sure his friend felt welcome in his new home. He played best when James was on the bench.
After the start of the season the Miami Heat fell and fell hard. A 9-8 start was not exactly what the "Heatles" were expecting. Blame flew around the sports world. Was it coaching? Were Wade and LeBron too similar? How did they not know how to adjust their games? It was as if the two of them were not able to figure out if they wanted to be facilitators or scorers. It was a dance that neither seemed willing to take the lead in.
After figuring things out in the second half of the season, the Heat put together win streak after win streak and got back into contention for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The team started to look more and more like what we all imagined the Heat juggernaut would look like in the offseason. James galloping to the lane, Wade crashing into the basket support. What we did not expect though was James to take on the role of leading scorer and facilitator and third leading rebounder. LeBron in his first season in Miami is putting on a performance similar to those of Jordan and Magic.
The reason this has become LeBron's team is simple: Wade has made a decision that he can't handle the pounding that he was when he was solo. LeBron can. LeBron is bigger and stronger than Wade. All of James' per 36 numbers are higher than Wade with the exception of free throws and personal fouls.
Watch this team in the playoffs: the team looks to LeBron. The Celtics series was evidence of that. Game 5 could not have been a more resounding display of whose team it was in the last five minutes of that game. 10 uninterrupted points to end the game and exercise his greatest foe in the Boston Celtics. LeBron came to Miami looking to be a contributor maybe even play second fiddle but, outside of his off nights LeBron takes charge when it matters most. LeBron was the King in Cleveland, he might have already taken the throne in Miami too.
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