Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Forget Ronaldinho, Here's Dwyane Wade.

While politics slides into the summer doldrums (the most interesting thing about Bush's press conference this morning was that the press could barely seem to rouse the interest to ask questions: "Ah, yeah, thank you Mr. President, ah, so, let's see, I suppose you still think Iraq is going well?"), sports are really heating up. With Brazil taking the field against an overmatched Croatian team, I expected some of the old razzle dazzle, samba in spades. Instead, we got some wheezy organ grinding. Oy.

The nightcap, Miami v. Dallas, had all the makings of a bad CSI: fatuous expert droning, overwrought acting, slick production values with no drama, and a predictable ending. In fact, as I tuned in, I was struck by how small a stage basketball now commands. It has ascended to a world stage, but like hockey, it is forever sliding in status. An event cooped up in a sweaty gym during the blossoming of summer, a game with a lot of hype but second-rate stars. How many times, since MJ's retirement, have we looked longingly at a new player, desperately hoping that he will bring some excitement back? Iverson is a fascinating figure, but besides the trick of surviving amid giants, his accomplishment has been meager. Duncan? They do a breath test before games to see if he's alive. Kobe's a thug. Detroit is an admirably blue collar team, but they play like pipefitters. LeBron? Okay, now you've got an argument.

Dwyane Wade, though, put in one of the best performances I've ever seen in a playoff game. There have been some classics--Jordan's buzzer against Utah; Reggie Miller scoring 25 in the fourth to beat the Knicks; Magic, as a rookie, playing all five positions and filling in as center to beat Philly, the "Havlicek stole the ball" moment. While football generally fizzles at the Superbowl, somehow the NBA rises.

Well, Wade put in that kind of performance last night. (It will be forgotten if the Heat lose the next two.) With Shaq completely contained in the second half, Dallas started lighting it up and the Heat looked dead in the water. They were down 13 with 6:34 to play, and worse, Dallas was hitting something like 72% in the half. Somehow Wade managed to put the team on his back and scored 12 points in that last burst to put them over the top. Dallas, with an improved D, knew he was going to drive every play, but couldn't stop him. It was just amazing.

I doubt it's a trend, but Wade outshined Ronaldinho last night. All of which was far more entertaining than anything a talking head could muster about Turd Blossom.

1 comment:

Idler said...

In defense of Ronaldinho, I think he played very well. There's only so much one guy can do. His teammates had moments of brilliance but overall didn't live up to their image. Mind you, if one or two of Roberto Carlos' rockets had gone in, the game would have looked substantially differnet in retrospect.

Where Brazil suffered most was in defense. That and the lackadaisical style that often characterizes their play in the earlier rounds of the Cup. Brazil complacent is often good enough, but when up against a team of Croatia's skill and passion it can become a very near thing.

Lot of aging stars on Brazil's side too (including R. Carlos, Emerson and CafĂș). That doesn't help.