LeBron/Wade debate off and running

The LeBron James / D-Wade debate has officially begun.

Besides Darko Milicic, Wade is now the first of the 2003 draft class to bring home the championship hardware and Tom Reed, Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter, declares Wade, not LeBron, the league’s current best young player. While Reed admits that Shaq played a role in the Heat’s championship by commanding double teams which enabled Wade to do what he did, Wade was the main reason why they won it in the end.

D-Wade is a terrific young player, don’t get me wrong. During the NBA Finals, he displayed the heart of a champion and the poise of a 10-year vet. But do the Heat even get to the Finals if it weren’t for his supporting cast? In Game 6 against the Pistons, it was Shaq and Jason Williams who won that game for Miami. Shaq’s 28 points and 16 rebounds and Williams’ 21 points helped the Heat advance to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Yes, I know Wade had the flu bug and wasn’t at full strength, but if it weren’t for those two, Miami would have had to travel to Detroit for a Game 7 and who knows what would happen at that point.

Reed does give LeBron his due by saying he will be the better player in the end.

James just completed an astonishing first playoff run. He had a triple-double in his first game. He hit two game-winning shots. He averaged 30.8 points in the face of constant double-teams. He helped soften the Pistons for his friend Wade by extending them to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Cavs’ standout remains the better long-term prospect. An authority no less than Bill Russell said last month that James is the one with the potential to match his Boston Celtics dynasty if surrounded by the right supporting cast.

Size and durability also are James’ allies. Wade is a serious knee injury away from being a borderline All-Star. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound James is a serious knee injury away from becoming the next Karl Malone.

That all being said, I still believe LeBron is the best player right now even without a championship ring. He came into the NBA straight out of high school and has single-handedly revived the city of Cleveland. LeBron is a physical freak who poses matchup problems for anyone in the league who dares to try and defend him. He does things on the court that nobody else can do. Case and point: the Detroit series. The Pistons changed their entire defense because of LeBron and he was still able to cut through triple teams on his way to the rim. In that series, the Cavaliers only had one other player who averaged double digits in points (Zydrunas Ilgauskas ) and LeBron still was able to get his team to a Game 7.

Finally, put LeBron is Wade’s shoes. If James were on the Heat and had Shaq and company, I don’t think anybody would doubt that LeBron would win the championship.

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