By Michael Tillery
While Shaq the seven foot real life superman, is thunderously avalanching through the universe bellowing, “Can you dig it?” Flash is racing past his opponents at the speed of light, seemingly to whisper in one ear, “Watch this” and “Did you see that?�” into the other. Even Marvel Comics can’t compete with this. Before his rivals can turn their heads to say “huh, what?”, Flash is gone again with frenetic break neck speed leaving the opponent flabbergasted and the crowd roaring with excitement. Once more wowing us by one of his sick and amazingly smooth athletic dunks that can’t really be compared to anyone else. Now, that’s African! He flies like Mike, abuses gravity like Julius, and gracefully glides like Clyde. You can bet Steve Nash’s back to back MVP trophies that Dwyane Wade will become one of the most accomplished athletes of our time. He has become a master of reticent alchemy and helped to transform the Miami Heat from recent expansion team to NBA champions. Wade is simply white hot. As hot as the Heat fans wearing all white at home–were at Wade’s accomplishments in becoming the MVP of the series, averaging 34 points, the third most ever for a player in his initial championship finals.
Wade is like a 6’4” sinewy wrecking ball with the buoyancy and stealth of an attacking nuclear sub. Watch out! He will bang it on your center–with the ease and force comparable to any and all of the best dunkers of all time.
If he were truly the mercurial superhero Flash, he would not need the prosthetic muscular breast plate associated with comic book heroes. You haven’t heard his name being linked to anything criminal and most likely you won’t. His jersey sold more than any other NBA player. He’s been featured in People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people, modeled for Diddy’s Sean John, been the on the cover of the EA Sports video game, NBA Live 2006, and has been given the mantra of being the NBA’s best dresser according to GQ. He is a Christian who this year donated 10% of his 2.6 million dollar salary to the Blood, Water and Spirit Ministry in Chicago. He was tithing before he made millions in the league. His son’s name is Zaire Blessing Dwyane Wade and there are stories that he and his wife Siohvaugn, have been together since they were nine. Wade is here to prove that you can be a bad boy on the court without living the bad boy lifestyle.
He is what an athlete should be, a true role model for our children.
His Jeter like presence is nothing Hollywood, it is not botoxed enhanced or spoken off the top of his head by chance. Wade is supremely and intently aware of the honorable moment that he was blessed to be placed and his legacy–up to this point–in his young career can only be matched by Magic or Bird, period. We all have to be careful here to not anoint Wade the best ever. He has a long way to go and there are so many legends gazing from the horizon with greater individual careers and substantially more team accomplishments. Hopefully, writers across the land will write with positive history shaping admiration regarding Flash so young men will understand that it’s OK to be God fearing fathers, husbands and loyal friends.
He is a soldier for childhood literacy. His favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. In his own words he describes why: I guess they wonder how a love story from Regency, England could be relevant to a 21st century basketball player from the South side of Chicago. Class struggle, overcoming stereotypes and humble beginnings, getting out of your own way and letting love take over – these are the things I can relate to, definitely. Somewhere, Doc and Mike are smiling, because the NBA ambassador of moral class has finally been passed to an individual capable of being responsible with God-given talent, but not being jaded and falling for all the pitfalls of super stardom. We are seeing someone great grow up before our eyes. With all the negativity presently surrounding sports, it’s good to see the cream rise to the top. We should all hope it continues.
Can you believe that Wade wasn’t higher on most “experts” draft boards? Just that March, he opened the college basketball world’s eyes with a performance similar to this years finals. Remember the triple double against top seeded Kentucky? Rightfully so, the world was witness to coronation of LeBron, and Carmelo was driving Syracuse to that year’s title, but Wade is as special as they become.
As great as Le Bron is and will become, rest assured that the collective Heat brass does not envy the Cavaliers. You can bet Mark Cuban’s NBA levied 1.65 million in fines (Stern is being ridiculous) that every other team envies the Heat. The notable exception being the Cavs of course. The 2003 draft has become one of the best ever, now commonly compared, albeit maybe a tad prematurely, to the great 1984 class that was headlined by Jordan, Barkley, Olajuwon, Stockton and even included 9-time Gold medalist, Carl Lewis (10th round, Bulls), who stuck to his day job and became one of the greatest Olympians ever. The 2003 draft was spear headed by King James, Melo, D Wade and Chris Bosh. With second tier potential stars like Josh Howard, Barbosa, Hinrich, Diaw, and Kaman, this draft alone will help the league prosper for years to come. Don’t believe the hype that pro basketball is going through a period of suffering, because the NBA is thriving with some serious talent that is as athletic and marketable as it is young.
Dallas tried all they could to stop D-Wade. He dominated the finals in story like fashion. He stepped up and split constant double teams, spin moving to avoid trouble and put himself in an always advantageous position to drive, shoot or pass to open teammates who had the heart to come through. Shaquille was gracious enough to trust Wade to carry him to his 4th title. You have to feel great for Alonzo Mourning�he came up big with crucial blocks and some big baskets throughout the series after kidney disease derailed him in his prime. What can you say about Gary Payton, who like many others, were victims of Jordan’s reign but persevered to hit two huge fourth quarter shots in games 4 and 5 helping the Heat to close wins. Walker should be labeled a winner because he’s pulled off the rare feat of winning an NCAA championship at Kentucky (Riley’s alma mater) and topped that off by shimmying his way to an NBA title while on his back after taking a clutch charge in the fourth quarter. That will definitely be a memorable moment in his enigmatic career. Simply put, Talent wins championships.
Most of the credit should go to Pat Riley, who stepped from the front office amid ridiculous scrutiny to teach this true team how to win.
Riley, who in 1966 led Kentucky and overtly racist head coach Adolph Rupp to the title game and lost Texas Western (now UTEP). In that game Coach Don Haskins started 5 Black players for the initial time in NCAA basketball history. Just imagine how that game has shaped Riley’s coaching style as well as his overall life.
We’ll all be sitting on the edge of our seats to see just how great Dwyane Wade will become and what lessons he’s learned. Appreciate the constant maturing greatness that he exudes, because just like his nickname, in a flash the great players are gone.
Michael Tillery is a Delaware writer who just can’t understand why so many of our heroes keep dropping the ball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org