POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 4, 2011
Once again, you’ve got to hand it to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Not the gleaming Larry O’Brien Trophy, emblematic of the NBA championship. Not yet, anyway. Not, after their antics in Game 2.
Rather, as has been the case since last summer, when they first put the band together with Chris Bosh, you have to marvel at the windfall of excitement and controversy Wade and James have whipped up for this NBA season and, now, its championship series that continues Sunday in Dallas.
This is one title showdown where the passions are notably split far less between fans of two teams, the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, than divided among the considerable Wade and James faithful and the legions of those who hope the two will fall flat on their smug mugs.
This has ceased to be about cities and become the perception of good vs. evil in ways not approached since Bill Laimbeer last fired an elbow. Either you love the personalities the Heat have assembled in South Beach and relish what they might be capable of, or you despise their swagger with a ferocity usually reserved for mindless government waste.
The only inhabitants of the middle ground these days, it seems, are the comatose.
For that, David Stern, the NBA and its TV partners should rejoice as they count the profits.
On the verge of blowing out the Mavericks and putting this series in the freezer in Game 2, Wade and James inexplicably gave Dallas — and the series — rousing life in a 95-93 loss.
The WWE couldn’t have come up with a jucier story line nor could Hollywood cast it any better. The Mavericks, desperate for a spark of some kind, sure couldn’t have ordered up a more compelling wake-up call.
One moment the Mavericks were staring at a 15-point deficit with 7 minutes, 14 seconds remaining. And, then, right in front of its bench, Dallas was feeling its blood boil, its resolve rise and Dirk Nowitzki come to life.
First, Wade posed in that frozen-in-time, hands-to-the-heavens form after depositing a three-ball from the corner. Then, James came over and playfully punched at him as if certifying the shot as a knockout blow.
It seemed, despite later protestations to the contrary, as if Miami was declaring victory — in both the game and the series — right there in the Mavericks’ faces if not dancing on Dallas’ suitable-for-filling-in grave.
The first installment of that “four, five, six, seven...” championship run James had famously talked about in the same building last summer, perhaps.
Instead, it turns out the Heat were, in ways hardly intended, turning this into a drama with growing potential to be something special.
For that, whether you adore or detest them, you sure have to hand it to Wade and James, all the while wondering what further installments might bring.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.