"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Answer to any critics: Wade is family - congrats on title and passing Lucas for most NBA points by an MU player

On October 14, Lazar Hayward feigned a heart attack in excitement upon seeing Dwyane Wade come on the court for Marquette’s Midnight Madness.  On January 31, Wade brought Lebron to cheer MU past Seton Hall.  On April 1 in Boston, Wade finally found a seam in Doc Rivers’ defense to hit a layup for his 14,859th NBA point with 6:35 to go in the second quarter to pass Mo Lucas as the top NBA scorer to ever come out of Marquette (see table of all players below).  And Thursday, Wade was able to celebrate his second title after Hayward grabbed the last rebound and scored the final basket of the 2012 season.
“I was so blessed at 24 to be able to win a championship, but I didn’t go through enough … (Now) after 6 years, going through a 15-win season, going through a lot of stuff in my personal life … this right here … I know how hard it was to get back to the mountaintop … because nothing is guaranteed.” – Dwyane Wade response to the difference between his two titles
Wade continued to make his Marquette family proud with his humility throughout the playoff interviews this year.  I was sorry to see a few MU fans buy into the “Wade flops,” or “Wade whines,” bandwagon on a couple of occasions.  Maybe I am sensitive to it because I run polls every week on how quickly people turn when someone is "spinning" them like coaches do when they hope to turn sentiment against a tough opponent to get a few calls to go the other way.

I love James Hardin, but in the final game only his beard was injured twice and he sat on Wade once to get three fouls called on the Heat.  Wade has drawn 9,000 fouls in the NBA, and with the software now used to draw up EVERY one of them in video, it wasn’t hard to put together 30 or so really bad calls in his favor when he clearly wasn’t fouled (well under 1% of all fouls he’d drawn) to try swing the pendulum the other way with him NOT getting calls he should have on drives.  Anyone who has ever referred basketball at half the speed of the NBA knows it’s amazing how many calls NBA refs get right.

So don’t buy into the critics.  Wade has been such a class act these playoffs as he has  complimented Doc Rivers’ defense, Russell Westbrook’s incredible play, and showed the humility of someone who realizes he became perceived as a bad guy last year because of the Celebration, but really seems to have his life in perspective.  Even though I don’t know Dwyane or Siovaughn even casually, I was devastated when word of the divorce ended the story book  that had played out with the elementary school sweethearts celebrating the 2006 NBA title. 

I always pray that married couples end up back together even though I realize in so many cases like this it would appear to be impossible.  But in a tough situation, Wade's interview with Parenting and his interview shortly after the latest championship should certainly make all of the MU family proud to call him one of our own:

“I was so blessed at 24 to be able to win a championship, but I didn’t go through enough … (Now) after 6 years, going through a 15-win season, going through a lot of stuff in my personal life … this right here … I know how hard it was to get back to the mountaintop … because nothing is guaranteed.” 

I’m not saying the MU family should all have rose colored glasses.  I shocked an ESPN radio host this week when he said, “You have the best player in the league with one of the top 10 players in the league in Wade,” and I responded by saying Wade may have just been top 15 this season.  Wade is 30, and while people talk about leaving it all on the floor in a game, Wade is going to leave it all on the floor for his career.  He is playing more beat up than he was for the first title, he is not a huge guy like Lebron who can take as many hits without eventual impact on the high flying act that was still evident on the late alley-oop lay-up in the clincher.  Who knows how long he will continue to be truly elite – though he certainly was again for most of the playoffs.

When I wrote my book on Marquette basketball a few years back, the two pictures on the cover were of McGuire and Wade for a reason - Wade may always be the second most important figure in the history of Marquette basketball for the rest of history.

McGuire took MU to the Final Four twice and created enough buzz along the way that in 1979 and 1980 MU had eight players in the NBA for the only time in history (Whitehead, Lee, Ellis, Tatum, Walton, Lucas, Chones along with McNeill for his last year in 1979 and Toone for his only year in 1980).

Wade’s 2003 season resulted in the other Final Four, and many a great guard coming to MU to follow in his footsteps through a Big East conference MU likely never could have joined without Wade's 2003 run.  There is even a chance that next year there could be seven MU players in the NBA for only the fourth year in NBA history if DJO and Crowder make it and Hayward stays, since Novak, Matthews, Butler and Wade seem like locks.

Even during and after the McGuire years, the only other year that MU had seven NBA players was very briefly during the 1974 season when Allie McGuire played a few games to join McNeill, Chones, Lackey, Meminger, Thompson and Kojis. In fact, this year was the first season since 1981 that MU had five players in the NBA.

If we rate players by the NBA Efficiency Rating (the five positive things you can do for a team minus the three negative things you can do) then Mo Lucas is actually still the greatest MU/NBA player with his 9306 rebounds, but Wade could catch him in just two more years.  Wesley Matthews is already the 10th greatest MU player ever to play in the NBA by this measure, and he could pass McNeill, Meminger, Whitehead and Thompson to be 6th all-time if he plays just five more years at the same level as his first few.

Maybe Jim Chones will be calling Jae Crowder’s number during his Cleveland Cavaliers broadcasts next year, and DJO will be impersonated some of Wade’s moves around the NBA.

Let’s not be fair-weather fans of Wade though – whether he is still competing for titles or winding down his career as a role player one day, he will always live through the current and future greats who would have never come to MU without him lifting MU back to the top again and then staying loyal to the school when frankly he does not need us any more but appears to want us as family.

Here are the career NBA Efficiency Ratings for all MU players, with a “+” indicating a player who could still add to his total.

1Maurice Lucas14857930624988036592316665291918236
2Dwyane Wade1499030203697105561121155607121914432+
3Doc Rivers93772625488915633511651412166712366
4Jim Chones9821642712923917741165459066012290
5Don Kojis9948455511128916490679910015
6George Thompson8114145715611833095433956576339
7Jerome Whitehead4423326837425120069618323155673
8Dean Meminger2552108610462422811083233523
9Larry McNeill25331440225183787110481993141
10Wesley Matthews29736734012623930412801062658+
11Tony Smith25047358813197944213451572574
12Earl Tatum25086825073191012891306982424
13Jim McIlvaine107212431051366912315251832308
14Lloyd Walton1442370124326428422720992106
15Chris Crawford165454715410180232784781442
16Steve Novak13723517351245857991225+
17Travis Diener85424343276999470171028
18Bo Ellis613482113698414531252852
19Butch Lee77313730787116436257722
20Sam Worthen2391161185769310015328
21Bob Lackey4131641371012120168325
22Amal McCaskill2042133624365213427300
23Lazar Hayward19786321582812414172+
24Jimmy Butler1095614115144713121+
25Michael Wilson1083645155285010121
26Tom Copa4836326818960
27Bernard Toone553412451641251
28Joe Thomas554317631141
29Brian Brunkhorst2513355427
30Allie McGuire42100205
31Jae Crowder0+
32Darius Johnson-Odom0+
33Bill Downey00200
34Gene Berce1001150

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