Wednesday, May 19, 2004


The Dwayne Wade era has officially begun in Miami. The spotlight may have been on rookies LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony during the regular season, but the Heat rookie used the post-season to give the basketball world a glimpse of how bright his star shines. Wade was unstoppable. Even in yesterday's disappointing Game 6 loss to Indiana to end the Miami Heat season, Wade carried the Heat on his rookie shoulders by making one amazing shot after another, just as he willed Marquette to the Final Four a year ago. And all this while no one else on the Heat could find a way a score. Make no mistake about it, the Heat is now Dwayne Wade's team, and will be for a long time.

My hope is that the Heat keep their nucleus intact. Wade, Lamar Odom, and Caron Butler are outstanding young players who gained immeasurable experience in the playoffs. Brian Grant has the heart of a lion and is very valuable to this young team. In my opinion, Rafer Alston has the ability to develop into an excellent backup point guard. However, Eddie Jones must go. He does not have that X-factor that you need from one of your highest paid players. Call it heart. Call it will. Call it clutch. Whatever you want to call it, Eddie Jones doesn't have it. He doesn't carry that confidence that he can step up big when he needs to. He doesn't have that swagger. Keeping him around might actually hold this team back from progressing next season. Instead, I'd like to see the team acquire a point guard to free up Dwayne Wade to play the 2-guard spot. Although talented enough to play the position, Wade is not a natural point guard and can better utilize his scorer's mentality on the wing. And without a doubt, the Heat need to get bigger. Brian Grant is a woefully undersized center. He should be playing power forward, ideally alongside a post-up, shot-blocking center. I know that's a lot to ask for, but that's what this team needs -- a point guard and a center. Those players don't have to be superstars because the Heat has two potential All-Stars in Dwayne Wade and Lamar Odom. And while we're at it, I'd love to see the Heat pick up a couple of veteran guys to come off the bench. Guys with experience who know how to do the little things necessary to help their team win playoff games. The Heat won a lot more playoff games this year than anybody thought they would. Especially after Pat Riley announced right before the season started that he was stepping down as head coach. Stan Van Gundy came in, struggled through an 0-7 start and some growing pains, then eventually got the most out of his talented but inexperienced team, and led them to a first round win in the playoffs. I'm proud to be a Heat fan today. The future is quite bright indeed.