Since being drafted by the Heat in 2003, Dwyane Wade has blossomed into a sentimental favorite for Miami fans. Alongside NBA legends like Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton, Wade helped secure the first championship in Heat franchise history.
Maybe, the most important aspect learned about Wade during that Finals appearance was the fact that he could shine on the biggest stage of them all.
Now Wade shares his spotlight and home floor with possibly the best player in the NBA, LeBron James. While these two have the chance of being one of the most remembered duos in history, they will come back next season looking to be remembered for the right reason: winning.
After seeing that this team had chemistry issues in the NBA Finals last season, it's clear that things must change. No, Miami should not have a fire sale and panic after one disappointment. Instead, Miami has to lean on D-Wade to bring a trophy to South Beach.
Before last season even started, one of the biggest concerns about the newly formed contender was who would receive the ball in the final ticking seconds in a one possession game. For the 2010-11 season, it turned out LeBron James would get most of the looks and opportunities.
Now one season later, they are left with a bigger concern: Who should get the ball next season for the Miami Heat?
Statistically, it's no surprise to see James on top of the mountain when it comes to fourth quarter scoring in NBA history. At times he can score with ease, using his athletic build to barrel his way to the rim. However, James has always been questioned when it comes to clutch ability.
Don't get me wrong, what James did during the Eastern Conference playoffs was purely brilliant. It was a side from him we have never seen before: hitting big shots in big situations. The problem is LeBron tends to freeze when it matters most.
James is easily one of the best regular season players the sport has ever witnessed, but it's certain that LeBron needs a little help to win his first championship.
This is where Dwyane Wade comes in.
It was Wade who made the Finals into a competitive series when LeBron seemed to have stage fright. While they often force-fed James the ball, it was clear it wasn't meant to be. He either wouldn't get into the paint, or settle for a poor jump shot whenever he decided to take a shot.
Give Shawn Marion a lot of credit for his efforts against James in the Finals. He forced LeBron out of his comfort zone and he couldn't recoup.
However, it was LeBron's lack of aggression that was the biggest factor in his poor play. His inability to be effective in the fourth quarter of games gives a solid argument that James just isn't clutch.
Throughout his eight-year career, Wade has shown that he not only loves the ball in pressure situations, but he can thrive as well. He's been clutch during Miami's lone championship season, and also proved to be a more consistent option during last season's loss.
Was letting LeBron James carry most of the load throughout the NBA season a way of getting him comfortable in Miami?
Perhaps, but now Wade must realize this is his team to lead to glory, and James must accompany him.
James takes the edge when it comes to being the better scorer, as he is a top five player in history when it comes to points per game at 27.7 points. He is also the better overall skills player, being one of the biggest stat-fillers since Oscar Robertson. While that's an impressive feat, he does lack the killer instinct that separates the greats from the legends.
Until he finds his way of succeeding in the clutch, he should defer to Wade in big situations. Allow LeBron to pile up the points early and often in a game, but when it's clutch time, call on Dwyane Wade for the swan song.
This is the fourth quarter recipe for Miami to bounce back from last year. We learned last season that this team has the talent to win multiple championships for the foreseeable future. Without chemistry and a proven leader, it has the potential to go to waste.
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