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LeBron, Wade able to share “alpha dog” role just fine

Jun 6, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT

Heat's James congratulates Wade after scoring against the Mavericks during fourth quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami

Because some people just need to criticize LeBron James no matter what he does, there were ridiculous columns out about LeBron James shrinking from the spotlight after the Heat won Game 3. Questions LeBron just shot down in his press conference.

But, this situation in Miami is different than what we saw with the Lakers the past few years, when that was Kobe’s team unquestionably. It is different than the current archetype of what a championship team should look like, based on Jordan’s Bulls teams. When Jordan was the alpha dog. When the game was on the line for those teams, you knew the play was an isolation for their star and he would make things happen.

The Heat are not LeBron’s team. They are not Dwyane Wade’s team. They share the team, the spotlight, the alpha dog role. At the end of Game 3, they got together to run a pick-and-roll rather than an isolation for one of them. At other times they each have taken over at the end of games. They each have called out teammates.

They can share top billing. That was the entire point of this “big three,” so that one guy did not have to carry the load every time. That has worked out well for them, even if some fans struggle to get their arms around it.

At one point in the fourth quarter Game 3, Wade yelled at LeBron, and when Wade was asked about it this was his response (reported by our man Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel):

“Them guys understand. They know me. I understand them. If things are said to each other, it’s all in the better for the team. It’s all about winning. I want it. LeBron knew that. The things I was saying to him, I was saying to Chris, wasn’t nothing they wouldn’t say to me. It was something they would say to me in the Chicago series and vice versa. We have enough respect for each other… I don’t know if I got in his face, but I was just trying to do what leaders do and do what captains do. Step up and say what you feel at that point in order.”

Wade is telling how it looks in the Heat locker room — there is not one unquestioned leader. Nor does their have to be for this to work. There is a belief from that Jordan/Kobe mindset that the best players not only have to dominate their opponents, they have to dominate their teammates as well. Jordan lashed out in practice, when Kobe came into the league he wanted to play and beat all his teammates in one-on-one games.

A mythology grew up around that. Fans bought in. As if that was the only way to win. But it is not.

This is not some new idea — Tom Ziller was writing about it a couple weeks ago, our own Rob Mahoney had a post on this same topic back in August. Mahoney noted out that the whole science behind the alpha dog in a pack of wolves was faulty in the first place.

The Heat are close to winning a title and doing it their way. LeBron, for all the perception that he has to be the center of the universe, has set that aside. Wade welcomed in a co-leader. They both took less money to make it all happen. They both have taken over at the end of games, and in Game 3 they both passed to the open man when the game was on the line.

They are sharing the alpha dog role, and because of their relationship that works well for them. You don’t have to like it, but you had better get used to it.

  1. barkley4life - Jun 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    No way this makes too much sense for haters and basketball “purists” to understand.

    • edweird0 - Jun 6, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Yea I’m just waiting for toolsoftools to say something about LeBron being Wades wife….. People are always going to find something to hate on and knit pick. It won’t matter tho cause LeBron will take solace in that championship ring.

    • Waxxx4321 - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

      i agree barkely about haters and purist by you still are pure basketball air head…you said i wasnt good enough to make it pro..but you never heard my story..thats ignorant..i know one better than you..why dont leave charles barkelys name alone…

  2. dirtyassfish - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    The tooloftools has been quiet lately, Most likely tooling himself.

  3. redbear18 - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    “They are sharing the alpha dog role, and because of their relationship that works well for them. You don’t have to like it, but you had better get used to it.” You also better get used to the end of the NBA. If the heat win this, players will see that is how to win, and they will join up in superteams as well. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in Orlando. Kevin Love and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles. Deron Williams and Marc Gasol in New Jersey. Add that to the Heat with Lebron and Wade and New York with Melo and Stoudemire, and you have only a handful of teams that even have a chance of winning a title. After that, the small market teams slowly fade away due to lack of star power to sell tickets, and those few superteams are the only ones left, and there is nobody left to play. They’ll probably become NBE, national basketball entertainment. Everybody will lose interest, then it will be the end of basketball. I’m sorry, but I fail to see how
    Miami could possibly be good for the league and fans outside of the big markets. The owners better fix this in the next CBA, or basketball is doomed.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      While I agree with you on how this may lead to more super teams, I have also noticed the sudden spike of interest in the NBA. Meaning more fans are watching it than ever before. There is also a flaw in your logic, the Celtics have a super team already (hell that’s why the Heat came to be) and they were dominating the East for a couple of years. The Heat was formed to beat the Celtics plain and simple. That’s why the Heat (rightly or wrongly) were so happy after they eliminated them.

      Not every team you named will be able to put something like this together. Players have to sacrifice their money and pride to get it done.

      • nfl25 - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        how can you compare celtics to the heat. i like the celtics but who can you compare wade and lebron to on the celtics? bosh is comparable but wade and lebron are on another level.

        also why do i keep hearing jordan and pippen and lebron and wade. saying wade is like pippen. honestly i am not a big fan of wade since he swept rondos legs and his constant flops (i know alot of people do it, but i cant stand it), but he can take over a game whenever he feels like it. wade is not comparable to pippen

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM


        I know what you mean. Of course the talent level is not comparable but you can’t do that. You can’t say hey the Celtics are allowed to form a super team but the Heat can’t because theirs is better. The Heat had all the stars aligned and it just so happens Wade and LeBron are great off the court friends. I understand the outsiders frustration, but some of the comments made by fans and prof. sports media is down right rediculous sometimes.

        I don’t even know why everyone is so upset; LeBron is a choker that can’t close? He quit on his team, he’s selfish and plays hero ball. He wasn’t even on some MVP ballot’s this year. And these guys are better than the Jordan and Pippen duo (6 championships)? Make up your minds.

    • nfl25 - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      the worst part is there arent many lebrons and wades to go around. we arent talking about durant and westbrooke. wade and lebron are the best of the best. So maybe you get 3 teams together that can hang.

      the only good thing is this year it drew so much attention cuz miami is the villian with the dream team that act like entertainers, and whoever plays them is the underdog that dont have the talent but fights and claws and gives it their all. so its fun to watch and hope they can knock off the “dream team”. that was great for nba, and i am sure their tv ratings were good. the problem is if miami dont get knocked off, you just come to realize nobody can beat them. and then it becomes pointless to watch. i was all excited cuz my team is young and can get better, then i think when the hell are the sixers gonna beat the heat

      • nfl25 - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:54 PM


        i get what ur saying. most people just hate on lebron. i root aginst the heat just cuz i always go for the underdog. the bottom line is lebron and wade are gonna be tough to beat. i actually think u could take one of them off the team and they could still win a champoinship. the team is pretty good. u got bosh, chalmers and joel anthony (not sure if they just look better cuz of the team they are on), throw wade or lebron in and you got a really good team.

        this is why i love the nfl. its so differnt than the nba. the nba reminds me of a horrible nfl franchise that will over pay a big name wide reciever that only has one or two good years left in him, just cuz it will get people to come to the games this year. instead of signing a good right tackle or center. nba tries to be sexy and seems like they just are trying to make it work this year. i love basketball but i hope the nba changes

    • anythingbutyanks - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      Um…dating back to 1990 and maybe further, practically every season champion had a roster with at least 2 future HOFer’s. I don’t see how this team is essentially different than the current Celtics and Lakers or past Lakers (Kobe/Shaq) and Bulls (Jordan/Pippen) teams. Even the Spurs in ’99 and ’03 were Duncan/Robinson with some Manu and Parker on the side. Houston in ’95 had Olajuwon and Drexler. So the only NBA champs since 1990 that I can see without 2 HOFers are the ’94 Rockets, ’05 and ’07 Spurs (which could be debatable, but I doubt Manu/Parker are HOFers), and ’04 Pistons. The Pistons are the only champions I see who probably fielded an entire team with no future HOFers. So for the past 21 years all but 4 teams have been constructed in a manner similar to the current Heat roster. This is status quo, not change, other than the fact that all three were free agents in the same off season.

      • nfl25 - Jun 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM

        the way i look at it is that some players become great together. there is a reason why the heat doing this was a huge deal. if it happebnd all the time it wouldnt have been such a big deal. some guys grow together and you never know if they would have been as great if they were seperated.

        it could be comparable to kobe and shaq, but then you throw in bosh. and i gues it feels differnt cuz if you have wade and he needed a big man so they got someone like shaq, but it wasnt like that. it feels more like magic and bird getting together or jordan and magic, something like that. but who cares, if ur a miami fan ur good. its the rest of the nba that needs to worry. the only down side is people will always say well u have the dream team, ur supposed to win. but who cares, as long as you enjoy it, it dont matter what people say

        also why is jordan/pippen something i been hearing about? when pippen and jordan were put on the same team, did the whole world go “holy shi$ pippen and jordan on the same team!’ dude wade is a stud, he dont compare to pippen. do u think if pippen was on some random team from the start of his carreer, that anyone would care what he thinks? he would just be known as a solid player, which is what he really is

      • savvybynature - Jun 6, 2011 at 6:23 PM

        For starters, you doubting that Manu is a HOFer tells me you probably do not know much about basketball, or at the least about the HOF. Second, having two HOFers on a roster is one thing but the Heat have probably 2 top 5 players in the league right now. That is a little different. Pippen was good and deserves all the credit he gets and maybe more. But the Heat are more like if Jordan did not extend his rookie contract and instead teamed with Bird or Magic. Really the only comparable team in recent memory is the Shaq/Kobe Lakers teams, imo.

  4. essfjay - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    it’s going to be real akward for LeBron when D-Wade gets that finals MVP trophy. then we will see who the real alpha dog is.

    • edweird0 - Jun 6, 2011 at 3:52 PM

      You talk as if LeBron won’t be happy enough with his ring. Thats WHY he came to Miami remember, for the ring not a Finals MVP trophies. Stop trying to make something out of nothing.

      • essfjay - Jun 6, 2011 at 6:42 PM

        you don’t think that the media will spin that same story too if the heat win? & it just goes to show you that he needed Wade to get the title. LeBron has taken a back seat to Wade & it is clear to see. when both are on the court it’s all Wade.

  5. nfl25 - Jun 6, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    thanks for clearing that up kurt. what was the point of this article again?

  6. silk32 - Jun 6, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I know the Shock Exchange pokes fun at Lebron a lot but dude earned my respect when he “mushed” that reporter last night . Not in a million years would a reporter have asked Barkely something this ridiculous.

    • asublimeday - Jun 6, 2011 at 11:47 PM

      I liked Ohio boy Lebron in the Notre Dame colors last night during that presser

  7. seahawkhuskyfan - Jun 6, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Looks like LeBron is scared at the end of the game. Running from the pressure instead of taking over

  8. thetooloftools - Jun 6, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I’m sure Jordan, Ewing, Barkley, Pippen, Dr. J, Magic, Bird and all the greats are saying”boy, i wish i could have done that”. They were men. they were leaders. They made others around them better. LeBron had to have EVERYTHING run through him in Cleveland and he couldn’t get it done. It wasn’t the lack of talent around LeBron, it was LeBron wanting all the attention on LeBron. They drew up plays at the end of the games and he would just go out there and did what he wanted anyway. Why did Cleveland suck so bad this year ? Probably because LePunk waited until the very end of free agency when everyone who was any good was signed, to make his “decision” so he made sure Cleveland didn’t have any options. It worked. Hey, if James gets a ring fine. I hope he’s happy. Wait till the new players CBA bargaining with the owners start. THEN you will see the damage LeBron James did to his fellow players by screwing the Cavs and be willing to take less money (even though Cleveland was forced to do a sign and trade to get something for him) to go play with his friends. Stern’s NBA is NOT going to stand for overpaid players just deciding to pick up walk away while giving their ex team no options. A hard cap is coming and the big 3 might not even be able to stay together period.
    And finally “I will not rest until I bring a championship to Cleveland” said LeBron James. The problem was, we all Loved him and believed him… and he just was lying the whole time. He didn’t HAVE to do it all in Cleveland… he just didn’t want any help from anyone and wanted to do it all himself.
    Mrs. Wade can choke on her ring.
    Her Karma has yet to be fulfilled.

    • edweird0 - Jun 6, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      And here he is…. Your such a fool I won’t even begin to counter your argument with the truth. Just wanted to let you know tho that you’re bf lied to you when he said it was him, not you. You’re a jealous and resentful little girl who will never get over her insecurities.

      • Waxxx4321 - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        the fool of tools has extension history of names in the nba..but he doesnt know a damn thing hes talking about the same time….get off Lebrons Jock strap

      • thetooloftools - Jun 6, 2011 at 6:43 PM

        Why don’t you argue my points instead of call me names?
        You can’t handle the truth.
        LeBron James went overboard to screw Cleveland and that’s why his gear is sitting on shelves.
        Nobody wants to wear the gear of an Akron ghetto punk traitor.
        Even people in his own hometown hate him.
        I live here in Cleveland. I forgot more then you’ll ever know about this cat.
        Those my friends are FACTS.
        Your welcome to live your life in delusion but don’t tell me I’m wrong and you can’t explain why.
        “Your such a fool I won’t even begin to counter your argument with the truth”.
        If this was a debate you would be tossed off the podium.

    • progress2011 - Jun 6, 2011 at 10:17 PM

      tool of fools:
      1. LBJ’s contractual obligations were fulfilled honorably. In any business agreement, once you meet your contractual obligations, nothing more is required by either side.
      2. It is the owner of ANY business to have a business plan that consists of a ” Plan B ” .
      LBJ was Plan A but if that option was no longer available, it is the owner of the Cavs responsibility to have other viable options.
      3. There was a lack of talent around LBJ, which is why the team had a terrible season once he left.
      4. Bird, Magic, Jordan and others that have comments, would not win with that Cavs team. Therefore their comments about LBJ’s decision fall flat because they NEVER played on such sub-par teams.

      The Cavs issue should be with the owner that was / is ill-prepared to run an NBA organization because he fails to prepare or have a Plan B.

      • asublimeday - Jun 6, 2011 at 11:52 PM

        Couldn’t agree with thetool more. Wade and his two b*tches are cancers on the modern NBA. We haven’t even addressed how much they’ve taken flopping to a new level. We’ll all be better off when they’re retired with 0 rings

  9. Waxxx4321 - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    its Wade’s Team…if the heat win by the margin it seems Wade is the MVP

    • progress2011 - Jun 6, 2011 at 10:27 PM


      1. By their on-court play, I believe LBJ and Wade have agreed to not have the Kobe/ Shaq drama about ” who’s the man “.
      2. Based on their match-ups, some nights Wade defers to LBJ, other nights LBJ defers to Wade.
      3. In this particular series, LBJ is getting doubled every offensive possession.
      4. Conversely, Kidd is attempting to check Wade, man to man ! There is no way Wade should allow Kidd to check him, he has to be the leader in this particular series.
      5. But if you run the numbers, LBJ’s performance has surpassed not only Wade but also the MVP of the league D-Rose.
      6. LBJ is the reason they won the Boston and Chicago series’.

      So, you can emotionally say it’s Wades team or whatever but the numbers and ” facts ” don’t support your emotional opinion.

      • savvybynature - Jun 8, 2011 at 12:51 AM

        “In this particular series, LBJ is getting doubled every offensive possession.”

        Dude, are you kidding me!?! All LBJ is seeing is single coverage and he’s passing out of it! He was singled on Kidd tonight in the second half, and passed out of it. Wade is drawing the extra defensive pressure, and still making plays out of it. Have you not noticed Chandler hedging hard on screens for Wade at the top of the key, forcing defensive rotations?

        James is a good enough player you shouldn’t have to resort to making stuff up to argue for him.

  10. icu84bs - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    The ring is the thing. Nothing else will matter down the road (who was MVP, who was the man, etc) when you are showing your grandchild(ren) your NBA Finals ring. Cheers.

    • ohkhan - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      not entirely true. if lbj wants to be considered the greatest of all time, and lets say for arguments sake he wins 6 rings and matches mike. if he wasnt the mvp in most, if not all of those finals, its gonna be hard to make a great argument as to why hes the best

  11. weston2010 - Jun 6, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    If Miami wins the championship – whoever gets the MVP will decline it and says the entire team is the MVP. Say you heard it here first on this posting. This team made it all happen, Wade, ‘Bron and Chris could not win the championship by themselves and they are very aware of this fact

    • edweird0 - Jun 6, 2011 at 5:31 PM

      First of all thats a ridiculous proposal. Not gunna happen. Secondly, Wade already has won a championship on his own so in that respect youre wrong. As for LeBron & Bosh, well I guess we’ll never know if they could have won one on their own.

      • progress2011 - Jun 6, 2011 at 10:42 PM


        Name ” ONE ” NBA player that has won the ” TEAM ” sport of basketball …as you say on their own !

        Now that you can’t…look at the teams that have actually won ! You can name atleast 2 Hall of Famers that played along side them.

        Conversely, the squad LBJ and Bosh played on had ZERO Hall of Famer caliber players. Shaq was basically a shell.

        The other starting players on the Cavs that played with LBJ would not make the starting roster on any other elite team !

        While I sympathize with Cleveland residents because that city has NOTHING to cheer for ( terrible economy, no jobs, terrible schools, crime thru the roof etc ) I suggest you move to another city that is more successful.

  12. trueballs - Jun 6, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Look at Kobe…he’s only 2/5 with Finals MVPs and everyone still loves and praises him. Magic, Kareem, and Worthy all shared their Finals MVP’s. Bird is 2/3…people love these guys and consider them to be the best. Jordan is the only one 6/6. It’s going to be hard to ever doubt MJ as being the best because of that impressive résumé (and don’t forget his godly regular season averages).

    In my opinion you can’t judge a player by simply adding up championships and finals mvps. None of these players won alone. It takes a solid 6-7 players to win a championship with a couple of stars. Would Jordan have had the same career if he was drafted to the Cavaliers? Would LeBron be ringless if he was drafted by LA? Wou

    Someone (Hollinger) has to make a formula that adds up the amount of offensive and defensive talent on a championship roster and take it from there. I mean shaq and kobe were great together…but they played against NJ, Philly, and Indiana. There’s just so many factors. But I guess since basketball players are somewhat human it will be hard to do this. I guess what I’m trying to say is…Kobe raped a girl

  13. savvybynature - Jun 6, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    They “share the alpha dog role”?!? Really? Cuz I’ve watched all 3 games and imo there is really no question who has been the best player on the Heat, and his name is D. Wade, not LeBron James. I’m not knocking James, who is an amazing athlete and player, but when the game is on the line Wade demands the ball and commands the double team, not James. I’m just not sure it’s James’ personality to “take over a game” a la Jordan and Kobe. Again, not a knock on him. It just seems to me that he prefers to make the right play within the system. That’s great. But sometimes at the end of the games you want a guy who does whatever it takes to get the win. Remember Jordan shooting over 3 Cavs defenders to win the game? Not the right play at any other point in the game, but a great play if you can make it to win the game. Fortunately for the Heat, they have that guy: D. Wade. LBJ has unbelievable skills and is an unselfish player and perfect compliment for a gamer like Wade, but I’m not convinced he is a true “alpha dog” like Wade/Kobe/Jordan.

    • progress2011 - Jun 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM

      Ummmm….I guess you didn’t see the Boston or Chicago series ! Wade was being doubled or had an injury or something but he was not performing well. LBJ was the ” alpha dog ” then and all during the regular season….which is why ALL of his stats are better than Wades.

      It is a silly conclusion to give a person credit for the success of the season because they have performed well in the last 3 games.

      • savvybynature - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:40 AM

        Silly or not, how you perform in the Finals goes a long way toward defining your legacy, and I am far from the only person who thinks that.

  14. thesaint23 - Jun 6, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    if the Heat win it will be because of d-wade and not because of lebum “the queen” james who has done nothing but froze and choked at the end of the finals games.

    just like pipen was the robin to jordan – lebum “the queen” james will always be the robin to wade.

    anybody that refers to themselves as the king has the ego of a termite.

    God Bless George W. Bush

    • progress2011 - Jun 6, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      no saint !!!

      OK I gotta reply to you just because of your George Bush comment ! Let me remind you of his legacy:

      1. Illegal Iraqi war based on forged documents and intelligence.
      2. No WMD’s they claimed they knew where they were
      3. American Soldiers ordered to torture prisoners at Guantanamo and other bases ( against the Geneva Conventions Laws to which we are a member ).
      4. Illegal/ secret prisons ( against Geneva Conventions and other international treaties we are members of )
      5. Spying on Americans
      6. Suspending Habeas Corpus-right that an accused person detained, have the right to a quick and speedy trial/ legality of detention ( Guantanamo etc. )
      7. “Capitalist” / Private business owners were allowed to take businesses overseas. They received Billions in tax payer dollars. They received huge tax breaks under the Bush administration tax cuts. This helped contribute to joblessness and the recession because Capitalist / Private business owners took money from the tax system and never put money back into the system.
      8. Unsecured boarders, after 9/11….Bush left office and never secured U.S. boarders as he promised.
      9. Billions of tax payers dollars a month being spent on TWO loosing battles, Afghanistan and Iraq….BUSH LEFT BOTH WARS TO BE DEALT WITH BY PRESIDENT OBAMA!
      Zero dollars were budgeted for the illegal war. Dick Cheney said, the proceeds from the oil we would steal, would pay for the war. Well, the Iraqi people burned or sabotaged all the oil fields, and we made no proceeds to pay for the war. Therefore the Trillions of dollars spent over the course of the war, were all at the American Tax Payers expense !
      10. Afghanistan achieved the largest Opium crop ever, after Bush took over the failing Democracy.

      • weezilgirl - Jun 7, 2011 at 4:40 PM


        You almost ruined my lunch. Being reminded of the destruction that GWB did while President isn’t very appetizing. When someone mentions WMDs, I always think of that idiot joking at a dinner about finding the WMDs under tables and chairs. I wish I could have bitch-slapped him right then and there. That or feed him another pretzel!

        Thanks, seriously, for posting the list. We need to keep reminding people of how he absolutely screwed our nation.


  15. truthtopowerhaters - Jun 6, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    The taste of crow will make haters say anything……alot of people said alot of things about the heat, about lebron, about the “ghetto” mentality that would leave clevland feeling deserted..(.talking about u tools)…now their scared and embarrassed…..purist fear the strength of a future that they dont quite understand and may not be a part of if they dont shape up…..

  16. olsherm - Jun 7, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    toolsofools it was lack of talent and he waited cause he didn’t want to hurt everyones feelings

  17. Ryan Karhut - Jun 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Just like Leinart and Bush hahahaha

    USC Stripped of 2004 National Championship:

  18. savvybynature - Jun 8, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    So LeBron had an 8 performance in game 4. Can we at least agree to stop even trying to compare him to Jordan for a few seasons?

  19. goforthanddie - Jun 10, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    You can’t “share” a one-man job. You can only have one leader, and LeBitch made it clear he didn’t want that responsibility.

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