- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nearly everyone in the NBA subculture is breathlessly searching for new superlatives to extol the basketball brilliance of Dwyane Wade, which is understandable to a point.

Wade is an especially talented player. It is equally true that his cause has been aided and abetted by the referees who treat him in the manner of Michael Jordan before he truly has earned it.

This is not a criticism of Wade. This is just the way it is in the NBA. It is the NBA culture.

Wade’s maneuvering near the end of Game 5 that led to his game-winning free throws was reminiscent of a youth-league journey, where one player dribbles all around the court with no genuine purpose in mind while being pursued by the opposition’s five players.

It was hilarious, and not only because it led to the deciding points but because Wade committed possibly two violations on the play before drawing a sympathy whistle from one of the referees.

There was a possible palming violation and a possible push-off violation. Neither was deemed worthy of a whistle.

You could give the referees the benefit of the doubt in not wanting to decide the outcome of the game, except they ended up deciding the outcome of the game anyway.

As gifted as Wade is — there is no hating the player here — this space still prefers Gilbert Arenas to Wade over the long haul of their respective careers.

And it is so obvious. Really, it is not even a difficult call.

This view is no doubt heretic at this time.

Wade has been taking bows on the NBA’s brightest stage, while Arenas is coming off an explanation tour that detailed the overzealous nature of Miami’s finest.

Arenas is a stand-up person, and there is no reason not to believe his version of the seemingly absurd events.

Young black men can be awfully scary, of course, especially if they are among all the biddies in Miami.

And Arenas is possibly the scariest-looking young black man ever, particularly if his 500-watt smile is lighting up a room.

An aside to Adidas, with which Arenas has a non-functioning shoe contract: Your doltish marketing people are an embarrassment to marketers everywhere.

There are several compelling differences between Arenas and Wade, starting with the skill level of both.

Barring injury, Arenas has the capacity to play in the NBA well into his late 30s because of the high quality of his basketball skills, notably his unrivaled shooting ability.

Let’s go back to the Wizards-Cavaliers series.

Arenas hit two shots in that series that no one else in the NBA can convert, except as a lucky heave.

In Game 2, near the end of the first quarter, Arenas took one dribble over the midcourt line, squared up in front of the basket and shot a 40-footer as if it were a 20-footer. Swish. No one does that. No one.

Arenas sank a similar shot — from about 30 feet — to send Game 6 into overtime.

Arenas is one of the most technically sound shooters in the NBA, and his shooting range is extremely rare.

Wade has range to about 18 feet, and it all comes apart on him beyond there.

His scoring ability is predicated on two elements: impressive athleticism and strength. He employs the latter to create space for his shot attempts.

His athleticism is certain to start abandoning him in his late 20s. What then?

Might he improve his shooting ability as the seasons pass? Possibly. We’ll see.

Longevity plays a big part in the assessing of a player’s career.

Think Reggie Miller.

He retired as one of the best ever last year after 18 seasons in the NBA.

His longevity contributed to the perception in large measure.

A surprising fact concerning Miller is that he was only a five-time All-Star.

One other significant difference between Arenas and Wade: Arenas plays with Brendan Haywood, Wade with Shaquille O’Neal.

No need to add a comment there.

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