Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wade too hot to handle, wins Finals MVP

June 21, 2006


— Dwyane Wade grabbed the season's last rebound, throwing the ball high in the air as the clock ran out.

And with that, he let out a long scream, a shout of delight.

It was over.

He and the Miami Heat were world champions.

With a 36-point night, Wade capped his first NBA finals in perfect fashion - leading the Heat to a 95-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the title series. The Heat lost the first two games, then won the next four, riding Wade every step of the way.

Shaquille O'Neal grabbed and hugged him. Heat owner Micky Arison wrapped his arms around him. And Wade simply raised one finger high - capping his playoff MVP performance. He was the best player in the playoffs.

The best player on the NBA's best team, too.

Three years ago, he was broke. Today, he has it all - including a championship.

"Wade is the best player ever," O'Neal said before the trophy ceremony. "And we did it."

Wade hit two free throws with 26.2 seconds left, then stole the ball and got fouled again 8.5 seconds later. He swished both, the Heat led by five, and 17.7 seconds later, they were world champions.

Let the comparisons to you-know-who continue.

"Dwyane has told me that he would not like me to speak of him in context with Michael Jordan anymore, out of respect of him," coach Pat Riley said Tuesday, about eight hours before tipoff. "He's a pretty good player himself. I think it's time for Dwyane to take on his own persona."

There are obvious parallels - like how both Jordan and Wade both can make something like taking over a game seem so effortless.

Dallas jumped out to a 26-12 lead after nine minutes of Game 6; no surprise, since the Mavs were playing for their season and had to feel some boost from a positively raucous environment in their home arena.

But the Heat had no reason to panic.

Wade hadn't starting scoring yet.

His first basket came with 1:59 left in the first quarter. His second, a jumper over Jason Terry - who fouled Wade on the play. By quarter's end, Wade had seven points, the Heat were within 30-23, and the arena seemed a bit quieter.

In the second, Wade started what became an 18-6 run by the Heat with a jumper that started Miami's rally back from an 11-point deficit. Then in the third quarter, with the game tied at 53, Wade blocked Josh Howard's layup with 9:43 left - sparking a 6-0 Miami run that bought the Heat a little more breathing room. And in the fourth, with Miami clinging to a three-point lead, Wade still had all the right moves.

At one point, Wade had three Dallas defenders around him and the two others watching him as he dribbled on the right wing. No one - except Wade, that is - noticed James Posey standing alone in the corner.

Wade tossed him the ball, Posey hit a 3-pointer, the lead went to 87-81 with 3:41 left, and the Heat would finish it off.

In his 98th game of a grueling, trying season where the Heat switched personnel, switched coaches and were perceived all year as a team that wouldn't be good enough to win it all - some doubters even picked Chicago over Miami in the first round - there was enough spring in his step for him to deliver 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.


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