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Wade admits he took a step back so LeBron could lead Heat

May 15, 2012, 7:20 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James and Wade speak during a time out during Game 1 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff against New York Knicks in Miami Reuters

It was always the question that ultimately needed to be answered in Miami — whose team is the Heat? LeBron James or Dwyane Wade?

They tried sharing the load evenly and that got them within two wins of an NBA title. But you could feel the limitations of that style when LeBron went into a fog in the finals. The question loomed. It was not something Pat Riley or Erik Spoelstra could answer for them.

But as this season has worn on it was clear Wade had given the reins to LeBron. Wade still averaged 22 points a game, he still had his moments, he would still close some games, but this became LeBron’s team. He had an MVP season. That includes in the fourth quarter, when LeBron had the second highest PER in the league.

Wade did this as a conscious decision, Wade told Israel Gutierrez in a fantastic story at ESPN (you should read the entire thing).

“It was probably one of the hardest things I had to do in sports was to, in a sense, take a step back,” Wade said. “A lot of people don’t understand. They’ll say, ‘Why would you do that?’ To me, I want more success from winning. I don’t want another scoring title. I’m just trying to win.

“I felt that it had to come from nobody but me, to say, ‘Go ahead, man. You’re the best player in the world. We’ll follow your lead.’ Once I said that, I thought he kind of exhaled a little bit.”

Wade said this really came to him in January when, sidelined by injury, he watched LeBron step forward with monster numbers. Wade said he realized he had to make LeBron feel comfortable.

“I just had some time to sit back and think a lot,” Wade said. “I just realized what we’re playing for, and what I’m playing for.

“LeBron is probably the most talented player we’ve seen in a while, but how good can we be? Are we going to be good if me and him are both scoring 27 a night? Yeah, we’re gonna be good, but it would be too much, ‘OK, it’s your turn, now it’s your turn.’

“I wanted to give him the opportunity where he didn’t have to think about that. It’s kind of like I told him, ‘Listen, I’ll find my way. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be there. But you go out and be the player that we want you to be.'”

The result was a strong regular season. Of course the real test — the only test that will matter in many people’s minds — is still ahead of them. Unless they return to the finals and get two more wins this time, the same questions, taunts and everything else will come back with a vengeance.

But Wade seems very comfortable with his decision. That alone has changed the dynamic on this team. We will see in the next month how much.

  1. jeffw - May 15, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Good decision. LBJ is the best player in the game by far… so DWade needs to get out of the way.

  2. paintman34 - May 15, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    still hope he’s his dominant self in the finals

    • 20dollardinners - May 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      I dont understand the dislikes. He absolutely owned the Mavs in the finals. His aggression was the key to their victory. I don’t remember seeing a player take over the finals like he did, especially coming from behind in the series.

  3. cakemixa - May 15, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Skip Bayless is gonna have a field day with this.

    • jeffw - May 15, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      The only one worse than skip clueless is Stephen A(hole) Smith!

    • slowclyde86 - May 15, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      Stop trolling for Bayless viewers and go away. The man is a media whore with no substantive opinion, only attempting to push buttons for ratings. Seriously, go away.

  4. jeffw - May 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Why would anyone care about anything skip clueless has to say???

  5. reupjosh - May 15, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    “Admits?” Does he not realize that anyone from the far corners of the earth, who don’t even know what a basketball is, still knows LBJ is a far more superior player? Thanks for coming to that conclusion Dwayne… That’s big of you.

  6. gotampabay52 - May 15, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Skip who even admits they listen to him Dr Phil is better the skippy. Go Heat two great players one has to be second pippen did so he we go

  7. tampajoey - May 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    So Wade finally admits to taking Lebron’s load. We’ll see how long that lasts when Lebron chokes again and Wade realizes his boy can’t get it done. Two massive prima donna egos on a collision course. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the implosion.

  8. furio2929 - May 15, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Common. You can’t hand they ball over to another star during playoffs. I call this a bluff

  9. furio2929 - May 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    Oh, and Skip is the ultimate entertainer while Stephan A Smith is the complainer. Tune in tomorrw

  10. drunkenjunk - May 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    we’ll see come finals, I still say its Wade with the ball in his hands when it matters.

  11. furio2929 - May 15, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Very true. LBJ will look lost in the 4th qtr

  12. anonymous135 - May 15, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Can only imagine how you’ve enjoyed nothing but success at what you do, win a championship, be the face of a franchise.. done it in crunch time, carried Bosh and Lebron last year and not be the one choking…

    and you defer. This to me is like telling someone that the woman you love with everything within you and happy – is better off being married to your best friend.

    Obviously a stretch comparison lol, but either way it takes a big man to do that. so props I guess.

    ps – probably had seconds thoughts when Lebron went canvessing those who did it, and asked them he could do it and win those championships. Hated to see Lebron always defering to his teammates for those wide open game winning shots, but would be nice to see him giving it up to DWade cause he’s money unlike those other guys who always missed wide open shots. Wayne Gretzky to Mario Lemieux against the Russians for the win.

  13. sgm405 - May 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    It wasn’t Wade’s fault that LeBron had no interest in driving to the lane in the NBA Finals last year. It wasn’t him that was deferring to Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem in crunch time.

    If LeBron was truly the game’s greatest player, he would have taken over on his own last year. The true greats wants the ball in their hands with the game on the line.

    Wade hasn’t held LeBron back. LeBron has held LeBron back.

    We’ll see if anything has changed when they play Oklahoma City or San Antonio. It’s up to LeBron, and always has been.

  14. ningenito78 - May 15, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    The fact that Wade had to sit LeBron down and say ‘OK, there, big buddy. You can play how you want to. I’ll follow your lead’ is exactly why he will NEVER be in the same sentence as MJ. Sure, he’s the most talented player in the world. But the fact he needs to be babied and stroked is the exact reason why a very high percentage of fans will look at any title he wins with Wade as a ‘whatever’. Now I’m not one to say he ‘failed’ in Cleveland because his supporting cast sucked. And everybody that says ‘Well one person can’t do it by themselves’ and ‘MJ had Pippen’. All true. But for some guy that calls himself ‘King James’ and starts sobbing during his MVP ‘acceptence’…he’s exactly what I thought he was.

    • pudgalvin - May 15, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      Well said. I think he tries to make everyone happy instead of grabbing the game by the balls and demolishing it, which he certainly has the ability to do. I hope he never figures it out.

  15. isujames - May 15, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Wade =class act, my favorite player in the league, just ahead of LBJ.

    • kavika6 - May 16, 2012 at 5:45 AM

      He was classy before LBJ arrived. Now he has the same bad attitude and arrogance as labron.

  16. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 15, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    D Wade made a classy move on this one considering where he is coming from.

  17. dannythebisforbeast - May 15, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Good if u had a half decent coach he would have done that least year and you would be on way to a repeat. As it is hes just letting you guys figure it out. Good job coach wade

  18. xli2006 - May 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Anybody want to unplug Steve Kerr’s mic? It’s a 2 vs 3, a close game which the Pacers won and all he kept talking about was the Heat in later rounds and if Bosh misses time beyond this series. TNT should tell him to knock that off asap.

    1-1 bring it back to Indy!

    The Heat only had a few game advantage on the Pacers this year. Been saying all year, don’t sleep on this team (and PBT has been sleeping on this team for months).

  19. xli2006 - May 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Whats all this Finals talk? The Pacers outplayed the Heat for most of Game 1 then played like garbage on Game 2 and still won.

    No Bosh, home court to the Pacers, let’s let this series play out before we go all Nostradmus with the Heat please.

  20. lakerluver - May 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Yeah, he takes a step back, until the last 2 mins of a close game when all of a sudden LBJ starts playing “hot potato” with the ball!!

  21. infectorman - May 15, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    “I’m gonna take my talents to South Beach…”

    What an F-ing megalomaniac. That stupid “decision” is the sole reason people OUTSIDE of the Cleveland area detest this guy.
    Also why he’ll never escape the top-10 of the Worlds most hated athletes.

  22. rabidmike - May 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    I’m cool with Kobe’s decision here. And yet, I still think he is a (female dog).

  23. nokoolaidcowboy - May 16, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    So basically, he agreed to be Lebron’s b!tch?

  24. progress2011 - May 16, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    James Jones ???

    Who’s dog house is this guy in ? He shoots a better percentage than Chalmers, Battier and of course Miller.

    None of them are shut down defenders (not even Battier).

    It’s obvious the Heat need a consistent shooter, to spread the floor. Why Jones can’t touch the court, must be personal.

    If that’s the case, Spoelstra is not placing the best players on the floor, because of personal – non basketball reasons, then the Heat deserve to lose.

  25. brianbosworthisstonecold - May 16, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    Since both wade ad leBron both scissor at night, it’s right to say that it is both.

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