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By Thomas Johnson
Back when the Heat hatred was reaching a crescendo last season, even vitriolic Youtube commenters could not deny how captivating LeBron and Wade were together in the open floor.
From the moment Miami thrashed the Mavericks in Dallas on Christmas Day one thing was clear- the Wade and James partnership would more closely resemble “Watch the Throne” than “Best of Both Worlds” this time around.
The chemistry, telepathy, intuitiveness – whatever you want to call it— has arrived. What this translates into is far too many highlights. Last week’s game against the New York Knicks, which I attended, had enough plays to fill out a top 10. Seriously, no hyperbole.
While being incredibly entertaining week-in, week-out, it also made this month’s feature a challenging one to write. It could have easily been a top-25, but who has the time for that?
I used to write a monthly top plays feature for the Examiner when I covered the Miami Heat for them last year (always one of the more popular pieces) and figured I’d carry on the tradition here at NYFWC.
Considering the sheer volume of games the league has crammed into the season, it’s easy to miss a few highlights here or there. So consider this your monthly catch-up session with the most enthralling team in pro sports. (Shut your dirty mouth, Lob Angeles.)
10. Wade catches the lob with his elbows above the rim
There were murmurings among many in Miami the past few weeks that Wade may have lost a step. That he seemed slower even before he got hurt. That age was finally catching up to him.
Then he comes back against the Knicks and pulls out a handful of seat-leaving dunks. In terms of pure athleticism, this one trumps all the others. First there’s the acceleration to beat three Knick defenders down the court, but then the jump… For a 6-foot-4 guard on the wrong side of 30 to be almost head-level with the rim… well that’s just making a mockery of physics.
It makes me want to give Wade the same look he gave LeBron after James missed those two free-throws against the Bulls last Sunday.
9. The rim nearly gives LeBron a concussion
A text from Mike after I sent him a link to this play: “What if LeBron forgets to duck his head one time, and that’s the end of his career?”
Bitter? Maybe just a little. Unrelated, but this totally reminds me of one of my favorite dunks of his career, back in his Cleveland days.
8. LeBron shows he can think off his feet
How often does LeBron look like Magic Johnson with a 40-inch vert? Had Magic been able to leap like MJ, these type of plays would dominate his highlight montage. When Wade and James are on the same wavelength, there isn’t a more entertaining team in the league. That includes you, Lob Angeles.
Also, this Top 10 could be made entirely of lobs and it would not disappoint. I swear that’s not what you’ve just walked into.
7. Wade goes Liam Neeson on Vladimir Radmanovic
How’s this for a stat: Despite having missed almost half of the season thus far, Wade has blocked more shots than all but two other guards (John Wall and Roddy Beaubois being the exceptions). He’s on pace to again have more blocks than LeBron James. Speaking of James, lately it seems as though Bron isn’t sprinting back in transition defense as much as he used to. Outside of his block on Matt Barnes (Okay by his standards), he hasn’t had one of his signature chasedown blocks this season. He used to have those nasty “smashed off the glass back to the three-point line” blocks routinely in Cleveland.
6. Wade (again) proves his arm is stronger than Alex Smith’s
Surely you remember the full-court alley-oop against the Pacers last season. This 96-foot pass is even longer. Again, Wade’s instincts and vision, combined with LeBron James’ sheer athleticism (tell me he wouldn’t be a better Vernon Davis if he stuck with football), means plays like this are likely to happen at any time.
5. Chris Bosh does his best Wade imitation- Destroys Spurs.
Generally, when Bosh dribbles the ball on a fast break, almost everyone in the American Airlines Arena is thinking the same thing: “Quit while you’re ahead. Pass the damn ball.” And that’s fair. More often than not, Bosh dribbling on the perimeter is a turnover waiting to happen. Not this time.
4. LeBron punks Billy Walker
At the Knicks game, I could not believe how passionate their fans were about Billy Walker and his teammate, the 6-foot-2 Vern Shroyer. Sure, Walker was having the kind of game that he will tell his kids, your kids and Antonio Cromartie’s kids about- but still. Then again, when your’re 7-12, it’s the little things that matter.
Also, someone in LeBron’s entourage had to have shown him this video of Billy Walker in college, titled “Billy Walker thinks LeBron James sucks.” At least I like to think someone did.
3. Wade confuses Landry Fields, then dunks on him
Few players are able to replicate And 1 streetball moves on an NBA court as effectively as Wade. This over-the-head move is pure “Hot Sauce” circa 2004 behavior. Landry Fields looked as overwhelmed as Lana Del Rey on SNL.
2. Chris Bosh destroys Charlotte’s D.J. White
I remember thinking three things when I saw this dunk:
- Say goodbye to your knee, Bosh. It was fun while it lasted.
- “Wait, is he going for crazy eyes or creepy eyes? Does he know?”
- I’d love to read the texts D.J. White received after the game.
Bosh has supplied more highlights in 20 games than he did in 77 last season thanks to the aggressive approach he’s taken when attacking the rim. Don’t forget his dunk on Al Horford AND Josh Smith.
1. LeBron James treats Chicago’s John Lucas like Frederic Weis
There were times last season when it appeared as though James may have lost an inch or two of his vertical. It just didn’t seem as though James was eye-level with the rim as often. If his ridiculous dunks this past summer weren’t enough to completely extinguish such questioning, then this one should do the trick.
Anytime your knees clear your opponent’s shoulders, you’re taking the top spot.
Agree? Vehemently Disagree? Any unforgivable snubs? Let us know, below. ‘Till next month.
By Thomas Johnson (Twitter: tjohnsonwriter)