Why Dwyane Wade is the NBA's Second-Best Player

Charles TownsendContributor IJune 14, 2009

As fans of any sport, we get caught up in the continuous debates of who's the best player or team currently or in the history of that sport.

This year, the debate was between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, arguably to the top two players in the NBA. Although entertaining and intriguing, this was more perpetuated by the media, which then got the fans to argue mostly biased opinions on who they feel is "top dog" in the NBA.

In my honest opinion, although not a fan of the Lakers or Kobe, I'd have to go with "The Black Mamba" as my pick for No. 1. But No. 2 isn't as clear cut as most would think. As Roy Jones Jr. so eloquently repeated in one of his rap songs, "Ya'll must've forgot."

Where are the Dwyane Wade supporters in all this back-and-forth about the top two? Did we forget about the Finals MVP in 2006 so soon? Are we dismissing "Flash" because of his injury plagued seasons (2007 and 2008) and figured he hasn't made a strong case during his six years of multiple All-Star appearances and a championship ring in only his third season in the league?

LeBron is definitely a physical specimen, incredible talent, and fierce competitor, but Wade has shown the same attributes most would covet James and Bryant for when they're on the floor. The memories of most sports fans seem to be short; when D-Wade would come off the bench during the Olympics in Beijing and take over most games during the United States' run to a Gold Medal. The hype brought on by Nike, ESPN, and VitaminWater has seemed to have brought on Alzheimer's in our NBA community.

Now I am in no way placing Mr. Wade over KB24. As I said, Kobe is definitely the best player in the NBA. But as far as second best, I'm compelled to anoint D-Wade with that honor. Aside from the championship and Finals MVP, he shares a trait with Kobe that I feel LeBron hasn't developed full yet, and that's killer instinct. The ability to effectively take over a game down the wire to make sure his team comes out victorious.

LeBron has shown this ability, but in fewer must-win situations as Wade has, when the pressure is most intense. Down 2-0 in the 2006 Finals, he took over in the third and fourth quarters of the final four games to ensure his team's victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

His mid-range game is a lot more consistent than LeBron's, which he developed in the 2006 Finals and the current season, when he put up MVP-like numbers. His defense has gone from solid to good, blocking shots off the ball much like LeBron and being able to play passing lanes just as well. He's not a defensive stopper but can play most players one-on-one, slowing down their production. And finally, like LeBron, has taken his team to the playoffs that consists mostly of rookies, vets, and one aging All Star in Jermaine O'Neil.

Off the court he appears to be a class act; no issues with the law, a humanitarian in his own right, and he has done a good job with the T-Mobile campaigns he runs with Charles Barkley. You can even catch him at playoff games supporting his former USA Basketball teammates, and I'm sure he's learning something in the process.

After Shaq Diesel left and made some not-so-friendly comments about Wade to the media, Wade never once "bad mouthed" Shaq and still to this day only compliments him for what he's helped him do in his career.

With still a lot of career left, D-Wade still has the opportunity to win another ring, maybe more depending on if he gets some help or ends up with a contender through free agency or trade.

Even his numbers are telling of his talent: 30.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.2 spg, and 1.3 bpg.

With his numbers and accolades, I think you can make a strong case for Mr. Wade to carry the No. 2 torch short of LeBron winning a championship in the next year or two.