Big Three

Who is the Miami Heat Alpha Dog?

Originally published on 3/7/2011

I know that there will be 200 million kajillion articles speculating on the shortcomings and demise of the Miami Heat every time they lose, and I expect my post to be none other than 200 million kajillion +1. But every now and then, the sports world grants us a boon, and allows us to relish in the disfunction of others, despite having no real vested interest to begin with – the Scheme Team’s circus drama is no different. So in the spirit of fly-on-the-wall journalism, I suggest that we all take our shots at the Heat before the “tear em down/ build em back up” Sports Media once again declares them NBA title favorites following their next 5 game winning streak. Wilt Chamberlain knew it, lived it, and was spot on when he said “Nobody roots for Goliath”.

The Big-3 remain on a quest for their first ever championship together but continue to encounter some of the same old challenges. Last year, there were numerous instances in which the Heat suffered a complete lack of cohesion, with a crescendo of frustrating losses that at one point caused some players in the locker room  evidently crying after a regular season game in March…….. not June, but March. The good news is that we later discovered who the guilty culprit at the end of the Finals, as he mysteriously collapsed en route to his locker room (hint: Avatar).

Questions will remain as to how the mounting pressures and high expectations will impact the Heat’s psyche. However, despite the Big-3’s success chemistry issues still exist that will not disappear overnight.

First and foremost,  the Miami Heat still do not have a clearly defined Alpha Dog or #1 guy. Do the Miami Heat belong to Dwyane Wade, or do they belong to Lebron James? Or do they still belong to Rony Seikaly? Sometimes, I can’t tell.

I realize that the “purists” around the league will point to the fact that basketball is a team sport and requires contributions from all 5 players in order to obtain success – I get that. Moreover the Heat’s Big Three will point to their own unselfishness and financial and personal sacrifice as evidence of their comittment toward teaming and chemistry – and I even get that. However, the 2-Alpha Dog approach has never worked before, and shows no signs of working now. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kobe. Or just ask Shaq. Or better yet, just ask both Kobe and Shaq at the same time, in the same room, while they are sitting next to each other, and watching a tape of the 2004 NBA Finals – then just let the cameras roll.

If NBA History has taught us anything, it is that nearly every championship team has had a clearly defined “#1 guy” leading them throughout the course of a successful season– the guy through whom the rest of the team could establish an identity, rally behind, and rely upon during critical moments in the game. During the 1960s, Boston had Russell while the 76ers had Wilt. During the 1970s, Milwaukee had Kareem, New York had Willis Reed, Philadelphia had Dr. J, and Portland had Bill Walton. During the 1980s, the Celtics had Bird while the Lakers had Kareem for the first half of the decade,  and then Magic for the second half . During 1990s, the Bulls had Jordan… you get my point.

The closest that the NBA ever came to a successful 2-Alpha Dog model was Kobe and Shaq: but even then, we all knew that Shaq was the Alpha Dog and Kobe was eventual usurper who would become the #1 option once Shaq began to age. Conversely, teams such as the 1979 Sonics and 2004 Pistons that had no Alpha Dog, relied upon an egalitarian team approach, great coaching, and phenomenal chemistry. They were the exception, not the rule.

So who is the Miami Heat Alpha Dog?

The second issue facing the Heat is the fact that both James and Wade have very similar games. In fact, too similar. Both are wing players who require the ball in order to maximize their talents, and both look to facilitate the half court offense while creating open shots for teammates. However, neither is accustomed to playing off the ball which poses a significant problem – there is only one basketball.

If you have watched the Heat play over the past year, you realize that both Wade and James have oftentimes struggled to coexist while on the court together. Their compatibility issues are usually never more glaring than during crunchtime when the Heat’s offense becomes stagnant, and Wade/Lebron digress into a game of my turn-your turn, as each player takes their shot at 1-on-3 basketball. It’s like 8th grade jungle ball, except these guys are getting paid $16 million a year while partying on the sands of South Beach. It is also why the Heat are now extremely inefficient in game winning/game tying situations.

This challenge though, is not insurmountable and here is the solution: Lebron James needs to accept his role as the #2 guy on the Heat, or in essence, evolve into Scottie Pippen 2.0  for the team to be successful, while deferring to Dwyane Wade as primary ball handler and scorer, or #1 Alpha Dog.  Lebron can be the full-court facilitator, but not the half-court facilitator. Moreover, he needs to average closer to 20 ppg instead of 30, while allowing the bulk of the offense to flow through Wade, particularly during key moments in the game.

I am not suggesting this solution because I believe that Wade is a better player than Lebron. In fact, I believe that Lebron James is best player in the NBA. Nor am I suggesting that Wade should have the ball at the end of games because he is more “clutch” than Lebron. In fact, quite the contrary – Lebron has historically shown that he is statistically far more clutch than Wade in late game situations. I am suggesting this hierarchy for the sake of chemistry: because for as capable as Lebron is of being the #1,  Wade is equally incapable of being the #2, and there is only enough room for one Alpha Dog on a NBA Championship team. Granted, having Lebron James  “dumb down” his game would be a supreme waste of his talent, but it is the only way to further enhance the Heat’s dominance, and establish the necessary chemistry needed to succeed.

Dwyane Wade could never adjust to the Scottie Pippen role. Do you really believe that Wade would be content by patiently waiting on the perimeter for open jumpshots off Lebron double teams? That is not Wade’s game nor is it what he has been  accustomed to for the past few years. It’s not that Wade is a selfish player. It’s simply that he does not have the versatility to adapt to a different role the way that Lebron does. In some ways, it is what makes Lebron unique.

Last on the issues list is what to do with Chris Bosh? Chris Bosh is not a #3 guy. Chris Bosh is actually a #2 guy who has spent most of his career masquerading as a #1 guy in Toronto. But he is not that #3 guy who will exhibit a blue collar work ethic, and take pride in doing the dirty work such as rebounding and defense, while scoring only when being called upon to score. In all honesty, this is a role that is better suited for Udonis Haslem and the Bosh issue will continue to exist until the off-season when Miami may have to explore trading him.

Up until now, the Heat have been able to mask their late game offensive deficiencies with solid defense, but that may not be enough to carry them to a championship. If they are going to contend for a championship, they will need to re-define their pecking order, and establish a hierarchy that instills more continuity in their offense with less 1-on-1 play.

In the interim, I will begin working on my next article discussing why the Miami Heat are the most “dangerous” playoff team in the NBA. Expect that piece to come out in about 3 days, right around the time when the weather changes.


67 Responses to “Who is the Miami Heat Alpha Dog?”

  1. Completely agree with all that has been said with this article except for the Bosh factor. If he can work his way back into the post position they would be much better off. btw i would h8 to see lebron’s stats going down EVEN MORE becuase he joined the Miami heat. don’t see any options so far but i guess this one makes the most sense

    Posted by MR.King James | March 7, 2011, 3:41 pm
    • King James, thanks for the read. Does Bosh avoid playing low post basketball because he shies away from contact, or because he lacks a strong low-post game. I am still riding the fence on this one.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 4:24 pm
      • Has he ever shown a low post game?
        or Defence?
        It’s not going to magically come from nowhere
        Although Amare has gone from No D,
        to some D

        Posted by MK | March 8, 2011, 1:41 am
        • Please do NOT compare Amare to Bosh. Amare was faced with coming to NY on his own and carrying the city on his shoulders. He took that challenge and was rightly considered a first half mvp. The guy has cajones that Bosh does not.

          The Heat’s problem is that Bosh is a finesse player who is used to being the one the offense flows through. As pointed out above, this is not what the heat need as the third Heatle. They need a player that will get down and dirty and do everything that Lebron and Wade can’t since they have to be the ones with the ball doing the scoring. Bosh just is not that guy. And if Lebron or Wade were in that position, they would not be that person either.

          Posted by Alex | March 8, 2011, 7:44 pm
          • Couldn’t agree more Alex. As Shaq said, Bosh is the Ru-Paul of Big Men. Amare has far more toughness.

            Posted by Chauncey Gandus | March 8, 2011, 9:16 pm
  2. The answer clearly is that LeBron James is NOT the best player in the NBA.

    Shouldnt the best player in the NBA have multiple ways to beat you?

    Why in the defining moments of all these games, is the “best” player in the NBA constantly resorting to trying to bull through a defender or jack up a 3? Why does he limit himself so much late game?

    Yes, LBJ has the best stats in the league but until LBJ can go in the post and make his teammates the easy/”good ole fashioned” way, he’s going to have a problem.

    LBJ has the best floor game in the league by far and if Miami can coax an uptempo game then they’ll be fine.

    But I place the Heat’s woes squarely on LeBron. The level of difficulty for the shots and plays LBJ is trying to make is apalling for a player of his calibur especially given how he operates in other facets of game.

    When will LBJ realize that just as easily as he can overpower players off the dribble, he can overpower them on the block (if he just committed the summer to refine his game?).


    Posted by Korey | March 7, 2011, 3:57 pm
    • Also, I throw my Kobe apologist hat on.

      Even during the Laker 3-peat, it was clear that down the stretch of games it was “Kobe’s” team. Yea, he was overall option 1B and Shaq got the #s midgame, but Kobe would play facilitator and demonstrate an excellent floor game and awareness of how to play with another dominant player. And in the end, Kobe would come and close the game if he needed to.

      Sometimes the matchup vs. Shaq was so easy, that Shaq could do late game magic as well and in general when this happened Kobe (for the sake of winning) decided that he would actually pass the ball and/or be the guy to create plays for the team. I often think this is the overlooked part of Kobe’s Shaq years. Who else on that team could get shots for other players off the dribble? Certainly not Rick Fox! That was a 1a/1b team if there ever was one for the last 2 chips of their 3.

      In 2004, yes the turmoil and silliness came to light but I would like to throw a rock at people pointing solely to the Shaq/Kobe feud as a reason for the loss when clearly having Slava Medvendko instead of Karl Malone vs. a motivated Ben/Sheed and also having a hurt Derek Fisher and a hurt Rick Fox compromised the depth on the squad and made their internal issues to much to overcome.

      Posted by Korey | March 7, 2011, 3:59 pm
      • It wasn’t Kobe’s team. Kobe had the ball at the end of the game because he’s an 80% free throw shooter and Shaq is the namesake for a style of basketball that puts an awful free throw shooter at the line.

        The difference between that Laker team and this Heat team is their two alpha’s had completely opposing style’s of play. It was correct: Inside-Outside.

        Lebron and Wade are similar. LBJ uses strength and explosion and Wade uses quickness and agility. But both are basically slashers with okay mid-range games.

        The Heat keep losing at the end of the game because for some reason they’ve taken a page out of the LBJ-Cleveland last second rule book that says that the only way to score a basket in under 10 seconds is to have a 10 second isolation at the top of the key. You have 3 solid mid-range stars with 3 40+ 3-point shooting players.

        RUN A PLAY!

        Posted by Don | March 7, 2011, 4:09 pm
        • In order for them to run a play down the stretch means that Spoelstra would actually have to coach Lebron. To this day we haven’t seen anyone able to coach Lebron. Publicly the Heat organization has been tip toeing around the issue choosing their words very carefully as not to offend him. They could try to have Wade handle the ball and run a play, but there’s no telling how that would go over.

          Posted by Terrence | March 7, 2011, 4:27 pm
        • +100 Don
          No Offence Korey but it’s embarasing you forgot about FT at the end of a game, Shaq is like the all time leader for Misses
          seriously how can you forget….. Hack a Shaq? That’s the only reason shaq got taken out end game.

          and Yes Yes
          the lebron Jams/ Mike Brown combo commited some of the greatest crimes against basketball end game coaching,

          Drag lebron into a room, Replay the Videos of Cavs finals games Down big 4th quarter,

          Lebron dribbles at top till time runs out then forces a shot, again and again and again and again and again

          Posted by MK | March 8, 2011, 1:52 am
      • I think that Kobe played his role during those championship years extremely well. And you are absolutely right in the fact that Kobe facilitated the game brilliantly.

        But one of the bigger myths in Lakerland is that Kobe Bryant was actually the closer in those 4Qs. Kobe definitely took the LAST shot, and oftentimes had the ball in his hands during high screen roll scenarios in the fourth quarter. However, contrary to pupular belief, the bulk of the 4Q offense still flowed through Shaq. In fact, Shaq took the majority of the shots, even in crunchtime situations. I invite you to watch the tape. I think that too many Laker fans have Kobe’s Game 4 against Indiana in the 2000 Finals etched in their minds, and have extrapolated that moment through 3 championship seasons. Kobe didn’t truly become the designated closer until late 2002.

        Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 4:51 pm
        • I’ve spent the last 30 min searching for play-by-plays from 1999-2000 Lakers games. I don’t think they exist. But I caught the end of the Portland game 7 on you tube, and it seems to me that the offense is running through Kobe quite a bit in that fourth quarter (meaning he handles the ball and shoots or passes it a lot). Then again, it was a Kobe highlight clip, so it might have been biased! But if you check the stats from that year, Kobe took 17.9 FG per game, and Shaq 21.1. I find it hard to believe that Shaq took the many more crunch time shots than Kobe, as that would mean they changed the distribution of their shots in the fourth quarter pretty significantly (versus a uniform distribution). Anyway, when someone has time, can they watch the fourth quarter of all the old games, and take down all the stats, and post them? Thanks.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | March 7, 2011, 11:28 pm
          • Thanks for the insight Gil. A couple of thoughts:

            1.) Be careful in the way in which you interpret those stats. FGA do not necessarily reflect all of the shot attempts per game since it does not take into account FTs in which a player gets fouled. In 2000, Shaq averaged 21.1 FGA, but also 10.1 FTA vs Kobe’s 6.1. Overall, that is approximately 5 more possesions per game. In addition, I would estimate that at least an average of 1-2 of Kobe’s FTA came during late game situations in which he was intentionally fouled with the Lakers already ahead.

            With that being said, the stats start to tell a very different story starting in 2001 in which most of the offensive possessions seem to be tilted toward Kobe. Interesting, huh? a potential dent in the naysayers to declare the those 3 championships teams to be primary Shaqs? I plan on writing about this in my next post.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | March 8, 2011, 10:05 am
          • My friends and argue about this quite a bit.

            Still hot button after a decade!

            But as much of a Kobe apologist as I am, we came to the point that Kobe gets credit for 2.5 chips because Kobe wasnt “Kobe” until 2001.

            Posted by Korey | March 8, 2011, 3:02 pm
    • Korey: As always, thanks for the read and the insightful feedback.

      I completely disagree that the best player in the league should have multiple ways to beat you. Are we really going to say that Patrick Ewing was better than Shaquille O’Neal because he had a more versatille game and a 18 ft jump shot? No. Shaq’s one or two moves were far more dominant and effective than Ewings 5 or 6 moves.

      With regards to Lebron’s tactic of using force to score in the final seconds, who cares? You go with what works. I would rather take a guy who has only one move, but succeeds far more often than the guy who has 10 moves but succeeds far less often.

      I also believe that no one has proven to make their teammates better than LBJ. Just take a look at the Cavs post-Lebron.

      With that being said, I do believe that Lebron could afford to work on his foot work, the way that Kobe has done the past few years. However, all that would do is make him even better than he his today, which in my opinion, is still the best.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 4:30 pm
      • Point taken about Shaq and Patrick Ewing.

        But to the same point, I could say that Patrick Ewing was the superior to Shaq just as LBJ is superior to Kobe (e.g. making teammates better, caring about defense, etc.).

        In fact, I dont think Shaq > Ewing was a valid argument until the Laker years. Until Shaq decided to become more than a one-trick pony, blake-griffin style, dunk player Patrick Ewing was a better player then Shaq. Shaq added a jump hook, a up/under, and a reverse pivot on the block which added to his alley-oop/dunk game. (Oh, and a crossover dribble shimmie shake of Jerome James if you like highlights!)

        Overall, I’d argue that one dominant skill doesn’t trump a player with multiple great skills (or whatever level is one below dominant). It’s why Tony Parker’s “speed” game doesnt match the combination of Steve Nash’s shooting and passing skills (okay, Steve Nash’s passing skills are great!).

        But anyway, back to the point, the “Bully” Basketball that Bron seems to be employing at the end of these games is obviously not working.

        If he is in fact the best baller in the land, why doesnt he use these “make other players better” skills to get someone else a wide open shot?

        I just can’t fathom why Bron is taking these tough shots when physically he’s superior to 99% of people guarding him and he has Mike Miller, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh standing next to him.

        I would blame Erik Spoelstra, but the “best” player in the game should be smart enough to figure this out in my book.

        He doesn’t HAVE to take the last shot in such difficult fashion. Isnt this what we lambaste Kobe Bryant for? Poor shot selection in the clutch? Forcing the issue? Taking the a difficult shot because he’s “the man”, easier shot for another teammate be damned?

        Well, time for Mr. James to get the same level of criticism, especially considering the world agrees that he has a vast array of passing and playmaking skills that no other player in the league can match.

        If the best player in the world cant get easy buckets in the clutch with that type of supporting cast on the floor, then really, who is the NBA’s best player?

        (Yes, I am in full LeBron hate mode.)

        Posted by Korey | March 8, 2011, 2:58 pm
        • Korey:

          I disagree with your assessment on Shaq vs Ewing. I think that this became a very relevant arguement in 1995, only Shaq’s 2nd year, when he avergaed 29pts, 11reb, 3ass, and 2.4blks, and led the Magic to The NBA Finals. I don’t care that he had only 1 or 2 move – he was already better and more effective than Ewing ever was. Moreover, I actually think he was actually a better defender with Orlando and put more effort into his help-defense rotations than he was with the Lakers. His primary enhancement with the Lakers was that he had Kobe Bryant as his teammate and became a better passer in the low post. Regardless, he was still better than Ewing imo

          With regards to Lebron, he does find the open man. He averaged 8 assists per game last season and is one of the best passers in basketball. Its facinating because he is damned either way. People criticize when he “bullies” his way and takes the last, yet, during the early part of his career, also crticized him for passing up shots and trusting teammates just as he did in 2006 when ceded to Donyell Marshall in the final minutes of game 2 against the Pistons. Which one is it?

          Posted by The NBA Realist | March 9, 2011, 1:50 pm
          • Mr. Realist:
            The Shaq/Ewing debate would’ve been close and perhaps it was valid a little earlier than when he came to L.A. I can concede that. Making it to the finals earned him the right to be in the discussion.

            The Ewing v. Shaq debate reminds me of the Kobe v. LeBron debates I’ve had.

            I mean, one player is superior athletically which translates into monster numbers and one player is superior in skills and ability to win in multiple ways. One an established all time great, one an up and coming young stud. There are some slight differences but it’s an interesting view considering there is less “bias” there then what we have with our current Kobe/LeBron ongoing nonsense.

            Yes, I’d concede that Shaq’s #s in 94-95 were better than Ewings. But would an NBA journalist claim that Shaq’s status was greater than Ewing at that moment in their career where Ewing was 10 yr in vs. Shaq’s 2 years? I doubt it. Would an NBA Journalist say that Shaq was a better player than Ewing in that particular year? Maybe. Not before the season, but probably after that season it’d be a valid point. Remember, Shaq did have the oh-so incredible Penny Hardaway and a non-choking-as-of-yet Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott on those teams. Kobe was an upgrade, YES, but not till Kobe matured a bit.

            You mention that Shaq’s season that year bested what Ewing ever did. I gotta disagree, because we always do the “old-timers” wrong in retrospect. I mean, Ewing in 89-90:
            28.6 pts, 10.9 rebs, 2 asts, 4 blocks. That last number is crazy, 4 BLOCKS! In no year, was Shaq that much of a defensive presence.

            5 times or more Ewing averaged 3 or more blocks per game. Shaq has 2, although 3 other years he was close. Combine that with the FT% and that speaks to my larger point that while Shaq may have had more effective #s in 94-95, Ewing was the more complete player despite experiencing a career decline and I just dont think that Shaq was a committed full-time defensive player until after getting his butt kicked by the Jazz a few years and really “wanting it”.

            I wish I had clutch stats for back in the day as well but oh well.

            I tend to always value the “veteran” who has done it and still can at a high level vs. the young stud with the numbers but trying to establish a track record.

            Posted by Korey | March 9, 2011, 5:18 pm
          • Still believe that Shaq was better in 95 than Ewing ever was, and I think that you are being mislead by the stats. Ewing, like many players during the 80s benefited from statistical inflation because the pace was simply faster and there we more possessions. More shot attempts = more points, reb, assists, and yes – even more blocks.

            In 1990, the average team scored 107pts per game. In 1995, during the era of “Riley” ball, 101.4.

            In 1990, because of the fast pace, an NBA game consisted of 98.3 possessions. In 1995, defenses kicked in and slowed down to 92.9.

            I like Patrick Ewing, but it is no coincidence his scoring went down once the defensive era of the NBA began.

            With regards to Lebron, I think that you are definitely looking through the hater lense by assuming that the way Lebron is playing is the way he has played his entire career. He is having a bad year, and going through a very rough patch during his clutch opportunities. However, from 2006-2010, he was making those same shots and has the stats to prove it. Check out

            I do not dislike Kobe. He’s great. I’m just giving my honest opinion in that people forget history.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | March 9, 2011, 9:54 pm
          • BTW,
            I’m not debating LeBron doesn’t pass the ball or has great stats. And yes he is DAMNED either way. The solution is just to win games and get it done.

            I’m just perplexed to why that isn’t translating to the end of these games.

            LeBron is supposed to be the guy that can just LIFT his teammates but all I’m seeing lately (through hater glasses) is this guy trying to go through people and abandoning this great floor game that he plays for 3 quarters?

            I thought this year he passed to Mike Miller for a game winning shot right? That’s the true LBJ. He’s not the “hero” daggger player. That’s Dwayne Wade swag.

            I have no problem when he is passing the ball but I do have a problem with him taking tough shots because unlike Kobe , Melo and other premier “scorers” he has the reputation to be awesome at elevating his teammates and making plays. If that’s so, why is that going out the window when trying to close these games??

            Posted by Korey | March 9, 2011, 5:23 pm
          • PACE PACE PACE!

            ARRGPGHH… Totally forgot about that.

            Realist, you are hitting me hard w/the stats. I see and I’ll take that as as sign of respect.

            As much as I hate to admit a loss, I take the L in this battle, Too much “haterism” on my part and I just didnt come hard enough to support my opinions.

            But now that I know what is “up up”, I’ll bring the heavy statistical ammo in my next commentaries to your blog.

            Until then, Keep up the good work.

            Posted by Korey | March 10, 2011, 12:19 am
          • LOL, definitely much respect.

            Hey man, its not about winning or losing, its about learning and knowledge. There are too many content farms out there that don’t challenge the readers, and the readers fail to challenge the writers. We won’t always agree, and won’t always be 100% right, but if we can take something new away from the discussion, its worthwhile. Already, you can see that the readers are interacting on the message boards with a high level of insight. Hopefully it continues and will make our blog different.

            You make valid points and have already given me ideas on some future points. Keep it comin.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | March 10, 2011, 11:16 am
    • You know, people do forget that Shaq got all those Finals MVPs b/c the Eastern champion teams had no answer for Shaq. In those years, the Western conference teams threw all the punches to the Lakers, i.e. the Spurs, Kings, etc. who actually had ways to slow Shaq down w their own interior defense. And if you watch those games, Kobe was clearly the most valuable player for the Lakers. I don’t know why people do not see that. In the playoffs, it’s all about matchups and against all the tough teams, Kobe was more of an MVP b/c really those Finals against the Pacers, Sixers and Nets were serious walk in the park for the Lakers.

      Posted by YKK | March 7, 2011, 7:00 pm
      • Your over doing here buddy. Shaq carried those teams. Kobe wasnt even getting doubled back then, Shaq was the main person defenses wanted to stop. He carrie three guys every night. Teams stacked up big men ala Portland just so they could use fouls on Shaq. Sacramento did the same thing. Shaq dropped back to back 40 and 20 rebound games on Sacramento. Shaq was just more dominant than Kobe, no way around it. If they were the same age, Kobe would have been shipped out of town. Who were the elite two guards Kobe faced during that time and those finals? Shaq was easily the man, all the attention on Shaq allowed Kobe to do work, teams dared him to beat them and he did it but Shaq still got his. Every finals Shaq was the better player, even when the lost to Detroit, Shaq played well and Kobe didnt!!!Check the numbers

        Posted by phillie213 | March 8, 2011, 4:14 pm

          Posted by darryl | April 13, 2011, 3:29 am
  3. Great views, but Wade is the better player. Lebron is more of stats guy, wade is has been a guy who does everything to get the win. But I blame damn coach.

    Posted by Jason | March 7, 2011, 4:34 pm
    • Thanks for the read Jason. Spolstra will definitely have some splaining to do at the end of the season if they get knocked out early and a I think that a coaching change is in order regardless.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 4:55 pm
    • Other than 2006, what has Wade done better than Lebron? He hasnt been out the first round in the last four years. I’d be interested to see that playoff record during that time. Lebron’s been a better performer in the postseason and regular season.

      Posted by phillie213 | March 8, 2011, 4:16 pm
  4. Bosh is awful. He’s like an improved version of Micheal Beasley, both have no impact on the game whatsoever. I still can’t believe this fool got 110 million.

    The coach is absolutely terrible. 4 straight game same foolish play. Wade has been the franchise hero since his rookie yr. To be overlooked for 4 games in a row is madness.

    Posted by Jason | March 7, 2011, 4:39 pm
    • Agree this is the most damning problem

      No way the same player should have taken shot 4 times in a row
      If you draw a doublt/triple kick it to the open guy

      Rose Passed to Deng,
      and the Bulls won the game

      Posted by MK | March 8, 2011, 1:56 am
      • Yeah like Lebron aint kicked it to Eddie House or his other shooters for game winners, see OKC game. I think he’s getting caught up in this whole “closer” talk and trying to hit crazy shots to win games, Lebron is a playmaker, but people gonna complain no matter what he does, if he passes, he scared to take the shot, if his misses, he’s not clutch, if he makes it, it was lucky. Just make plays Lebron and don’t worry about it. Lebron has made waay many more clutch plays than Rose so lets not use him as an example. Lebron beat you guys like a drum last year in the playoffs by himself basically!!!

        Posted by phillie213 | March 8, 2011, 4:19 pm

          Posted by darryl | April 13, 2011, 3:35 am
  5. Lebron and Wade need to watch some Mike and Pippen tapes..

    Posted by sean scott | March 7, 2011, 5:14 pm
    • but who is jordan and who is pippen? thats the problem… if it was jordan and jordan would it have worked as well? scottie was unselfish to a fault, he was basically the SF version of 2008 Kevin Garnett, the ultimate team player and winner

      Wade and Lebron arent Jordan and Pippen… they aint even Shaq and Kobe because Shaq was clearly top-dog and that was inside-outside so it worked…. this is like Melo-Iverson but with two way better players… its like Rocky-Apollo or Lennon-McCartney or something

      if you put McGrady and Kobe on the same team in 2003 would they have won the championship? mcgrady had way better stats, would he be the “lebron” of this duo?

      if i was choosing who should be “top dog” it would be wade, cuz i know i can win a ring with him as top dog cuz i seen him do it, and cuz miami is wade county, lebron came HERE to help him, not other way around… and wade is clutch and just freaking great anyways just as lebron is

      Posted by liam | March 7, 2011, 6:10 pm
      • and add antawn jamison from the 2003 warriors to that kobe-mcgrady duo to play the bosh role

        Posted by liam | March 7, 2011, 6:11 pm
      • The team is failing because LeBron is doing the exact same things he did in Cleveland because that’s all the coach knows (Spolestra and Brown played against each other in college, although that may be before my time, or at least before when I really started watching basketball).

        Posted by diehardNFFLbarnone | March 9, 2011, 7:56 pm
      • McGrady had “way better stats” in 2003 than Kobe? I think not.

        These are their numbers from the 2002-03 season:

        30.0 PPG/6.9 RPG/5.9 APG/2.2 SPG/0.8 BPG/.451 FG%/.383 3P%/.843 FT%

        32.1 PPG/6.5 RPG/5.5 APG/1.7 SPG/0.8 BPG/.457 FG%/.386 3P%/.793 FT%

        The only statistical category where McGrady leads Kobe is points by 2.1 PPG, but Kobe more than makes up for this by averaging an extra 0.4 RPG, 0.4 APG* and 0.5 SPG – they don’t sound like much but they all do add up to demonstrate contribution across the board. Their BPG are identical, and their FG% and 3P% are both practically identical (with a slight nod to McGrady, which Kobe makes up for with a noticeably superior FT%).

        So yeah – it would be fair to say that their stats are pretty much equal across the board. Neither had “way better stats”.

        * Kobe averaged 5.9 APG this season, and had 11 double-digit assist games through the first 40 games of the season. But apparently he “never passes”. Right …

        Posted by Elliot | April 21, 2013, 4:51 am
        • McGrady: 30.3 PER, 16.1 WS, .262 WS/48, + 7.7 RAPM, + 8.03 VORP, 17 WP, .277 WP/48

          Kobe: 26.2 PER, 14.9 WS, .210 WS/48, + 4.6 RAPM, + 7.59 VORP, 14.1 WP, .199 WP/48

          I rest my case.

          Posted by Chris | April 21, 2013, 5:19 am
  6. I disagree with all of this. Lebron is the #1, Wade is the #2. Bosh will accept his role as a “Horace Grant” and be happy winning rings or he can go lose on another team.

    Wade is amazing but Lebron needs to assert himself into the #1 role for the Heat to crush everyone. Remember when everyone thought all he needed was a real supporting team around him to dominate? Now he has that support, but he keeps stepping down from the #1. When that changes, the crown is theirs.

    Except for the past couple of weeks, all I’ve seen Bosh do is miss jumpshots and shag rebounds. He’s fine at #3.

    The playoffs are a whole different season. The Heat will be whipping people come the seven game series.

    Posted by Clutch | March 7, 2011, 7:12 pm
    • Thanks for the read Clutch. But don’t you think that Lebron has already established himself as the #1 this season, especially given that he is project to be Top 3 in MVP voting?

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 8:15 pm
      • Hmm. Maybe, but from what I’ve seen of his play this year, he’s restraining himself on the floor compared to his play as the #1 in Cleveland.

        I believe he’s overcompensating and trying to be a good teammate. I believe much of this stems from the fact that he desperately wants to have someone else pull the heavy load along with him – to the point that he doesn’t dominate his team like he did when he was with the Cavs. I think we’ll see a change very soon.

        Posted by Clutch | March 7, 2011, 8:30 pm

          Posted by darryl | April 13, 2011, 3:39 am
  7. Liam great comparison there. I want to disagree with wade being the top dog but for the life of me i cannot think of a good alternative. This is the problem Spo is facing with the team.

    Lebron James is clearly the better player all around but D-Wade is/was the face of the franchise you don’t want to just shove him to the side. They are great friends and recognize they have to make sacrifices to team up but how much of a sacrifice are they willing to make?

    The Celtic’s are one of the best closing teams in the NBA with 2 legit options to go to. I would like to see the Heat take a page out of they’re book but the only issue is neither one is the spot-up shooter Ray Allen is.

    Mike Miller is having an off year and Bibby hasn’t shown much of anything in terms of the 3 ball with the heat. Eddie House has been pretty consistent except for his cold shooting as of late.

    In all honesty I would like to see Spo draw up some Legitimate NBA play’s and have Bibby the most veteran of the group run the play from the top. Every single player on the roster can make a shot it just depends on the look they get. I want to see a off ball screen free up wade on the wing have bosh dive toward the hoop and have lebron posting up. Something of this type would be better than what they’re doing now. This would give Bibby 3 options theoretically open with the 4th option being him take the 3 shot. Every one of these options i would be perfectly fine with.

    Riley and Spoelstra just need to get some chemistry here. And nobody is talking about Bibby handling the ball. An interesting idea i think.

    Posted by Doug | March 7, 2011, 7:56 pm
  8. Just to be clear I realize there are 5 not 4 people on a team. In my mind im thinking a smaller line up for the last posession. Bosh at center Lebron at PF Miller at SF Wade and Bibby at the guards. Probably the most effective lineup for this scenario although you could argue having House in the lineup

    Posted by Doug | March 7, 2011, 8:02 pm
    • Make sense to me. If you’re talking last shot, chances are that the ball and the shot will end up in the hands of a perimeter player anyway, and rebounding and size will become less of a priority. So why not go with a smaller lineup?

      Although I would probably still try and have at least one big man on the floor for a put-back rebound, just as you suggest.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 7, 2011, 8:18 pm
  9. I agree with my colleague The NBA Realist on this one, though with one caveat. I actually think the Heat can operate with Lebron as the top dog for the first 3 quarters, much as the early 2000-1 Lakers did, with Kobe deferring to Shaw for the 1st 3 quarters and then pouring it on in the 4th.

    In the 4th, I think this needs to become more Dwayne’s team. This will also free up Lebron to really focus on the other team’s best player defensively (and to hit the boards). Additionally, I understand that Lebron has better stats in the clutch, but anyone who watched Wade in the Finals against the Mavs cannot dispute he brings his biggest game on the biggest stage. This is something we’ve only seen sporadically from Lebron.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | March 7, 2011, 8:17 pm
  10. During late game situations:

    I think Wade should start playing off the ball more, while Bosh setting a lot of screens for him (off ball) then let LeBron take it from there.

    At least this way – if the D collapses on LeBron his first option will be Wade, either him or Bosh and if all else fails Bibby/Miller if not then make the shot/layup.

    in terms of who number one is and number two is… Wade has to be number two during the game and number one late in the game while LeBron is vice versa.

    Really enjoyed this article NBA REALIST! i just think there should be moments in the game with “who is designated at Number One” – who is better suited for these situations.

    Posted by Logan | March 7, 2011, 8:32 pm
    • Thanks for the kudos Logan and agree with you – Some type of pecking order needs to be established, even if there are shifts and changes to that pecking order dependant on game situations. i.e. 1Q vs 4Q.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 8, 2011, 9:54 am

      Posted by darryl | April 13, 2011, 3:42 am
  11. Very interesting article. I have one idea though that could have prevented the debate at all. I have thought that Miami never should have signed all three and thought they should have signed just 2, but the two most people don’t often seem to pair, from what I have read, people seem to think that getting rid of Bosh is the only answer. I don’t know but he may perform better as the #2 than as the #3.

    I would have signed Wade and Bosh, a clear indication of who is #1 and #2. Then all the money you save from not having Lebron’s salary is used to build the supporting cast. The fact that Wade, Lebron and Bosh make up over 70% of the offense. One guy has a bad/off night, he is still going to take the same amount of shots, yet you expect to get increased production from the supporting cast.

    So with that money, get a defensive minded center, a solid PG and other role players who you can count on for multiple years. We all know Dampier and Howard are not a long term solution in Miami. I honestly don’t see the point in having a revolving door counting on players on the back nine to get you the championship. They could have had the opportunity to build a dynasty(They still can if this plan isn’t going to work out, I would trade away Lebron rather than Bosh). Have quality long-term bench players who can build chemistry so that you can avoid the high turnover. If only we could all play GM though.

    Posted by Jordan | March 8, 2011, 1:55 am
    • Thanks for the read Jordan.

      I completely agree with you. 2 out of 3 would have been sufficient as the Heat would then have had about 15-16 million left over for key role Players. Moreover, Bosh would have definitely played the #2 far better than the #3. It will be very interesting to see how the Heat move forward next year, expecially considering the uncertainty around the Labor Agreement, potential hard cap, and potential elimination of the mid-level exception. In essence, the Heat may be stuck for years to come.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 8, 2011, 10:12 am
  12. To all the Lebron fans here, Wade is better than Lebron. Wades resume and skill set makes him the better overall player. Wade can do everything Lebron can do and Wade has the killer instinct. Wade is also a better shot block, has better handle, better jumpshot… I could go all day. The fact is, Wade this year is playing off the ball and Lebron is playing with the ball. Wade had to change his game to accommodate Lebron. Lebron can’t play without the ball.

    Anyways its the horrible coach that needs to clear the air on who is top dog. We’ve seen Lebron choke, so give the ball to Wade and get out of his way.

    Posted by Mark | March 8, 2011, 3:15 am
  13. How many game winners has Lebron hit to be considered a closer? This guy is awful. I swear the coach shouldn’t be drawing any more plays for him. It’s sickening to watch. Same plays the same results. The coach needs to be fired.

    Posted by Mark | March 8, 2011, 3:28 am
    • Who was the closer for Cleveland for the last 7 years? you couldnt even define what a closer is. How did Cleveland win all those games if Lebron wasnt closing. Yeah they didnt win the title, but if you gotta have a ring to be a closer than so be it, but please define your definition as a closer. If its about rings, Dwade hasnt been out the first round in four years, who exactly has he been closing out? 2006 was five years ago, how many game winners do you need to hit to be considered a closer?

      Posted by phillie213 | March 8, 2011, 4:27 pm
  14. Count me in with the crowd that thinks that Spoelstra doesn’t know what he’s doing. A good coach would have used the 3 months before the start of training camp, not to mention all the time since, to design an offense to maximize the effectiveness of the Big 3 and the supporting cast. I know that it’s more emotionally satisfying to blame LeBron, but it’s not his job to do that, it’s the coach’s job, and it sure looks like Spoelstra hasn’t done that.

    The issue of LeBron’s post-up game (or relative lack thereof) is a prime case in point. If LeBron were to work on his post-up game on his own, without any input from the coaching staff, he would be criticized (and rightly so) for usurping the coaching staff. This is an area where the coach needs to work with the player to develop this part of his game in order to (and this is the key part) successfully integrate it into the overall team set-up. Much was made of Kobe developing his post-up game, but do you know why he did so? Because the triangle offense demands it! Anyone who watched tapes of Jordan (esp. in his secod tour of duty with the Bulls) knows that the triangle places a heavy premium on guard post-up play. When Kobe started focusing on his post-up game, Phil Jackson probably wondered to himself, “What took so long?”

    Again, I know that it’s more satisfying to blame LeBron, but in this case I think that the criticism is off-target. It should instead be directed at the coach, and don’t think for a moment that Riley isn’t taking mental notes. (Grimace all you want at a repeat of that scenario, but it did work the first time back in ’06.)

    Posted by E-Dog | March 8, 2011, 4:45 am

      Posted by darryl | April 13, 2011, 3:47 am
  15. Great article, except that I disagree that Lebron is currently the best player in the NBA. I don’t even think he’s the best player on his own team. Wade is, but because the latter has been playing in Lebron’s shadow, he appears to be the #2 option on offense.
    When Garnett and Ray-Ray signed with the Celtics, they clearly said that “this is Pierce’s team, and they’re not trying to steal the spotlight.” We know Lebron LOVE the spotlight. I don’t need to say more…

    Posted by Junior | March 8, 2011, 10:58 am
    this is extremely unlikely but it would be a very good solution for the heat. they would lose lebron but get a very good sf along with a pg and a center in return as well as solidifying their bench.

    Posted by dan | March 8, 2011, 5:15 pm
  17. Wade has the intangibles that we can’t measure on a stat sheet hence the reason why he won a champion with a good cast. In 2008 Lebron won the MVP but the best player that year was Wade. Wade had better stat’s across the board except for rebounds. Wade and Bosh and a hand full of roles players would have been better for the heat. Getting Lebron was overkill considering that him and Wade give you the exact same thing every night. The money they spend on him could have helped them fill out their roster.

    I think Wade has done a great job adjusting to a different style of play. His career assist average is over 6 a game and he has averaged a little over 4 this season, the main reason being that Lebron controls the ball the majority of the time.

    I know people will disagree but I don’t think Lebron is the answer. I look at the greats and they have things he does not, footwork, post play, and a good jump shot. These are things that are essential if you want to win it all in my opinion. Jordan had them, Kobe has them, in fact I remember Kobe came back one summer and they asked him why he was shooting so well and he explained that he shot 2,000 a day for the whole summer. Kobe did not start out with a killer jumper, he acquired it. Another summer he worked on footwork and post moves in Houston with Olajuwon.

    I think Lebron is the greatest natural talent the league has ever seen, but 8 almost 9 years in, he has not done nothing to supplement his talent. He travels consistently, and his post game is still non-existent. His jump shot is spotty at best.

    Posted by Bob | March 9, 2011, 12:06 am
    • Thanks for the read Bob. I agree with most of what you mentioned except that I still don’t agree that Wade had a better 2009 (this is what I think you meant) than Lebron. Wade’s stats were certainly phenomenal but Lebron’s team won 66 games while Wade’s team won 43. I just don’t buy that Lebron had significantly more talent to justify that delta.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | March 9, 2011, 2:04 pm
  18. Shaq would not have gotten no title without Kobe or Wade…People act like Shaq can do it by himself…get real…

    Posted by Kevin | March 9, 2011, 2:08 pm
  19. I can’t believe you guys talking about Lebron not making his teammates better. How long ago was it that the nation was getting on his case for Passing the ball against the Thunder and somehow that made him not the best player in the league because the best player takes that shot. Seriously the Heat would NOT have that many 40+ 3 point shooters if Levron weren’t there. Guaranteed. I pose this question: in what way does Lebron NOT make his teammates better?

    Posted by Stormon | March 14, 2011, 10:31 pm
  20. Nice read, thanks dude.
    I agree with most people that Lebron is the best all round player in the NBA. I also agree that a hierachy needs to be established for the heat to improve its chances of winning the championship. I believe that for the Heat to be successful, Lebron should defer to Wade in the fourth quarter if the game is close. Wade is as fearless as Jet Li and is most certainly tougher than James, mentally.
    Wade could be forgiven for conceding the title to the heavily favored Mavs after falling 2-0 in 06 but Wade is a fighter and I had the privilege of seeing it first hand. I witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in the history of finals basketball.
    Wade is a champion and is proven in that role of “go to guy” on the biggest stage.
    Wade has and plays with more heart than Lebron ever will. Don’t get me wrong, I am a LBJ fan and I do acknowledge him as the games best but…
    Lebron, you take the first 43 mins of the game. The last 5 should be left to the guy who has actually won something.

    Posted by vkmja | April 6, 2011, 5:37 am
    • vkmja – Wade’s performance in 2006 was certainly one of the greatest ever (if not the greatest). But I actually disagree that Wade is more clutch than LBJ and will be posting an article in the near future as to why. With that being said -and it may sound like I am talking from both sides of my mouth – I agree that Wade should have the ball in his hands during close games – not because he is better, or more fearless, but because the team needs to identify with a defined leader, and a consistent approach toward the end of games. Wade should be the Alpha dog for all 4 quarters since team simply operates better this way.

      Posted by The NBA Realist | April 6, 2011, 9:30 am


  1. […] my colleague and fellow editor NBA Realist posited that the Heat’s major issues revolve around the lack of defined roles for its superstars – suggesting that Lebron take a back seat to Wade and Chris Bosh act more like a power […]

  2. […] Wade: Back in 2011, I wrote that the only way for the Miami Heat to succeed would be for you to become the Alpha Dog, and for Lebron to become the #2. Not because you were the better or more talented player, but […]

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