His heart was beating too fast.
Too fast to concentrate, too fast to react and think right.
Too fast to be himself.
Most outta-body experiences are good ones. For the kid named Flash, this one was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. So was the moment.
His heart was beating at this ridiculous pace because of the pressure he'd put on himself. Putting himself - by simply having his name mentioned - above LeBron as the best in his class and above Kobe as best to ever play with Shaq had its down side. And in his first big, meaningful playoff game against a team that wasn't going to let him be himself, he fell down. Crash-landed on Earth. Became mortal. Became what he hadn't been since he entered the NBA: an over-hyped superstar.
But that's why they play seven games.
I jumped off the bandwagon. Not that I didn't appreciate or love what he was doing, but I refused to get caught up in the hype like so many others did.
Dwyane Wade is the best player in the NBA not named Steve Nash
He's better than Kobe or Penny ever were.
The Cavs made a mistake drafting LeBron over Wade.
He's the real next Jordan.
Before the series with Detroit began, I would say (and type), "Until he plays against a real squad & until D-Wade does what he did against the Nets and the Wizards in a big game, in the conference finals & until he drops 40 and wins a game against Tayshaun Prince & that's when I'll give him those props."
Until then, I'd recite and write, "D-Wade can't get all-world status. Not in my screenplay."
So when his outta-body performance hit in Game 1 (16 points on 7-for-25 shooting, two free throws), I was on the "I told y'all so" bandwagon. Knowing that even the greatest players fold the deeper they get into the playoffs the first time. Even $, I'd remind people, went 9-for-31 in his first ECF. The conference finals ain't for punks. The playoffs expose people.
And the Pistons ain't no joke.
And no one can achieve greatness, become all-world, attain pound-for-pound recognition in this game, until they conquer both: a 40-point game and winning one you are supposed to lose & in the playoffs. Better than Kobe and Penny? Even the legends watching from the Sixth Dimension knew better.
Then it happened. Somewhere after halftime in Game 2. His heartbeat slowed. To an abnormal pace. To its regular BPM. The blood in his veins returned to ice water. He was, once again, Frozone. "What's cooler than cool? Dwyane Wade!"
He had returned to self.
From the first two baskets of the fourth quarter, when he drove full court for the layup to the dunk that came immediately after that, the brotha we call Flash came into his own and welcomed the basketball world to his coming-out party. Yes, he had done things like this before. But he had never done it on this stage, in a game that (in his own words) was a "desperation" game with the world watching to see if he is who the world is saying he is.
In the end, he had 40. Him against the world. Enough to win a game against the world champs, enough to save the series, enough to get me back on his ridin'-on-24s H3 bandwagon.