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Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Jan 23 2012 @ 2:50 pm In Miami Heat | No Comments

I love Charles Barkley.  Call it a man-crush or whatever you want, but I think he is the best and most entertaining analyst anywhere in sports.  He is now to the NBA what John Madden was to the NFL years back.  The guy is brutally honesty and says things on national TV that nobody else has the guts to say, but many times are absolutely correct.  His recent views on the Miami Heat however, are not some that I agree with.

During the past week the Miami Heat have been without the services of Dwyane Wade(sprained ankle).  With the exception of last night’s embarrassing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat have looked very good.  LeBron James has looked awesome for most of this stretch as well.  This has inspired a lot of different discussions, both locally and nationally.  “Are the Heat better without Wade?”, which is completely ridiculous.  “Does LeBron plays better when Dwyane is off the court?”; numerically speaking, the answer is yes.  Barkley aired his opinion on TNT after a Heat victory last week.  He thinks that James is now the best player in the world and that he should be the one leading the team, as opposed to DWade.  This is a 180 degree turn from his position during the second half of the season last year.  So why the change and what is really in the best interests of the team?

LeBron is the most physically talented player the NBA has ever seen.  I believe this to be a fact, but I am also of the opinion that it doesn’t automatically grant him the status of best player in the league.  His numbers this season are excellent.  He is averaging 29.8 pts, 8reb, and over 7 assists so far this season.  James is shooting at a 57% clip from the field.  If you were playing fantasy basketball, he would be your #1 pick.  This is for real though, and so far LeBron has been less than stellar when it really matters.  His performance in The Finals last year was abysmal.  If he plays any better at all, Miami would be reigning NBA Champs, and Wade would have his second Finals MVP.  Some people will point to the Boston and Chicago playoff series last year as evidence that James can and should lead.  True, he played well in the end of games against the Celtics, yet he was only in that position because Wade torched Boston for over 30ppg.  There was very little pressure on James during the series.  Against the Bulls, James played awesome defense while on Derrick Rose.  Chris Bosh however, was Miami’s most efficient offensive player.  When the Heat closed out the Bulls with a huge 4th quarter comeback, both James and Wade were hitting everything, including 3′s.  During that Game 5 win, there was almost no pressure on Miami because they had no business winning and knew that they were going home to play Game 6.  LeBron James plays better when there is not too much pressure on him.

So slow down Chuck.  We are only 16 games into a lockout-shortened season and if he’s healthy, Dwyane Wade is the Heat’s leader.  He doesn’t succumb to pressure the way James has in the past and he has never played as if he quit like Bron did against the Celtics two years ago.  Let’s see where this conversation is in June.

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