Pivot Points: Should the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Debate Include Dwyane Wade?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer INovember 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 28:   Dwayne Wade #3 of the Miami Heat and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during a break in the game on February 28, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 106-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Silly me.

I recently penned an article that questioned the debate between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and in my haste I may have committed a grave error.

Well, they say hindsight is 20/20, and now I'm back to set the record straight.

Miami guard Dwyane Wade has every right to be included in the discussion. It could even be argued that at this point in his career, the debate should have included only him and Bryant.

Wade sometimes gets lost in the conversation for a number of reasons.

He was not nearly as heralded coming into the NBA, and while his team usually remains on the fringe of the playoffs, it is not considered a serious contender.

When Wade came out of Marquette University I thought that he would be a great player, but I never imagined he would hold court with NBA royalty.

The truth of the matter is that Wade is a much more accomplished player than he is given credit for. The fact that he has already won an NBA championship and was named Finals MVP is sometimes lost in the shuffle.

His 29.9 points per game average is fourth in the NBA behind only Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and the Kings' Kevin Martin.

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But stats only tell part of the story, as Wade is the type of player that literally leaves his imprint all over the court.

The passion he displays is second to none and the same can be said about his grit and determination. You never get the feeling that Wade is taking any plays off, and the way he sacrifices his body has to leave Heat fans cringing in fear.

Wade's value to his team is immeasurable.

He is the sole reason that Miami is off to its best start in years, and his fearless play seems to inspire the rest of his squad of over-achievers. You can label Wade an over-achiever, because to look at him you would not really expect anything special.

He has below average height for a shooting guard, and although he is a decent athlete, there are far better athletes in the league with far less game. Whatever he lacks in stature, he more than makes up in heart.

His will to succeed is right on par with Kobe's and his desire leaves opponents stricken in his wake. Last night with his team down by eight points Wade started a comeback all on his own.

With a steal and a score Wade changed the entire scope of the game. The Washington Wizards became helpless spectators, unable to stem his tide. That type of play defines Wade.

His grasp of game situations is one of the reasons he is one of the three best players in the game. There are weaknesses in his game, though.

His man-to-man defense is adequate, but not on the same level as Bryant's. His man defense is superior to LeBron's and he is every bit the help defender that James is, maybe even superior.

The difference is when Wade makes a big play on defense, it tends to inspire his team and they rally around him.

James on the other hand is often left to pick up the pieces as his teammates stand around in awe of his greatness.

Wade's mid-range game could use some improvement, but even this is an area in which he is superior to LeBron. Wade has recognized the value of the 15-foot jumper while James is more comfortable launching from 30 feet.

The common trait that he shares with Bryant is his ability to carry a team. You could possibly give Wade the edge because he has far less to work with than Kobe.

It is that trait that separates Bryant and Wade from James at this early point in the season, as LeBron has been unable to find the right buttons to push to motivate his team.

The leadership gene cannot be discounted because a team will only go as far as their leader is willing to carry them.

I wrote an article that named the top 10 floor generals in the NBA and both Wade and Bryant were included on that list. It may be James' omission that best describes why he may not be on the same level as Wade and Bryant.

Both Wade and Bryant have sat at the pinnacle of the championship mountain while James has yet to master its slopes.

The fact that they are both proven champions instills a level of respect from their teammates that James is yet to grasp.

I cannot take anything away from the talent of LeBron James, but honestly, the real debate should not include James.

No, there is a talented and more accomplished player who deserves consideration.

My hat goes off to Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, two players who understand what it takes to succeed, and currently have their respective teams playing some of the best basketball in the NBA.


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