By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com
Posted Feb 4 2011 11:56AM
There is no conspiracy afoot in the NBA to deny Dwyane Wade the recognition and acclaim he is properly due or to thwart his hard work toward what conceivably, someday, might be his first Most Valuable Player Award.
But if there were, Dwight Howard surely would be a co-conspirator.
Howard's hard foul of a fully airborne Wade at the rim Thursday night, in the third quarter of what became Miami's 104-100 victory over their Southeast Division rivals, sent Wade crashing to the hardwood, landing on his back. It was business as usual from Howard, who vows similar treatment to anyone who attacks him and his basket. But it was symbolic, too, for what The Race has been accused of doing to Wade so far in this space.
And what, come to think of it, some of Wade's most staunch defenders have done in return to The Race: Wham! Slam! Bam!
The emotions have run hot in mail both snail and digital. One critic cited an Internet entry that frames Wade's lack of appreciation thusly: "LeBron is at most five percent better than Wade. But Wade gets at most five percent of the national recognition that LeBron does."
Another Wade supporter cites the Miami Heat shooting guard's ability to keep up, statistically, with his new dominant teammate at small forward as a sign that Wade deserves equal consideration for MVP. This reader makes the additional point that, if Wade and James were playing on different teams, separately, their production would put them 1-2 in some order atop The Race from season's start to finish.
At various points since Halloween, various visitors to this site have railed, moaned or otherwise lodged complaints that there is some great bias against Wade that not only kept him from proper MVP consideration in seasons past but is working against him now in overdrive to minimize his contributions in 2010-11, either out of some general disdain for the Heat, their threesome of stars and the way Wade orchestrated the summer signings or out of a particular disrespect for the Marquette alum himself. To which The Race, summoning as much careful thought and steely nerve as Colin Firth as King George VI, steps up en masse to the vintage microphone and states unequivocally ...
Here are points to remember regarding Wade and his MVP candidacy:
• Every member of this committee graduated from the same Milwaukee university as Wade. If anything, there would be a bias in his favor, along with occasional appearances in the MVP Top 10 rankings by Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward.
• James statistically has been the better player -- and not by a teensy amount. He is averaging 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 36.5 percent from the arc and 76.9 percent from the line. He ranks second in the NBA in efficiency (27.7), and has 20 double-doubles and three triple-doubles. Wade's corresponding numbers are 25.4, 6.7, 4.1, 49.8 percent, 30.4 percent, 72.9 percent, 24.07 efficiency, six double-doubles and no triple-doubles.
• James is separating himself from Wade more recently. He increased his scoring average in each of the season's first four months: 20.5 ppg in October, 24.6 in November, 25.2 in December, 30.6 in January. And he's currently averaging, uh, 51.0 in February after Thursday's performance at Orlando. Wade, according to the same splits: 21.5, 21.6, 27.9, 28.8 and, with Thursday's small sample, 14.0.
• Miami is 17-7 when James leads the team in scoring, 17-6 when Wade does so. When James tops 30 points, its record is 12-3; when Wade does that, Miami is 12-4. But James has led the Heat in scoring 24 times, in rebounds 10 times and in assists 38 times. Wade has done it 23 times, 15 times and 11 times, respectively.
• In terms of the big picture, James' arrival is the most obvious change from a year ago. Now the Heat is 35-14 after 49 games. Then it was 24-25. One guy is the reigning two-time MVP. The other guy finished third in the balloting in 2008-09 and fifth last year. His previous bests were sixth (2006), eighth (2005) and 12th (2007). If Wade was going to win an MVP award as his team's brightest star, he had seven seasons to do so. James had seven seasons, too, and got it done twice.
Wade is a marvelous talent, spectacular athlete, terrific leader and pretty nifty team architect. He is a future Hall of Famer, a perennial All-Star and one of the top four, five, six or seven players in the game, depending on the week. But he isn't the most valuable guy on his own team, which means he's not even in the Top 5 among candidates for MVP balloting.
That's not a conspiracy. Or even a hard foul. That's just logic. Here are this week's rankings:
No. 10 (tie): Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton, Zach Randolph
Yes, it's a group entry and yes, it's a feel-good gesture to the guys most snubbed by the coaches in selecting the All-Star reserves. All of them -- the Timberwolf, the Trail Blazer, the Knick and the Grizzly -- played well enough in the season's first three months to earn trips to Los Angeles. So the committee wanted to give them a little love, especially to Minnesota's big Love, if only for a week.
Dropping out: Amar'e Stoudemire, New York (No. 8 last week); Deron Williams, Utah (No. 9), and Manu Ginobili, San Antonio (No. 10).
Honorable mention: Ginobili; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers; Joe Johnson, Atlanta; Josh Smith, Atlanta; Stoudemire; Williams.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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