LeBron James won his first of four MVPs in 2009, beating Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, who placed second and third, respectively. Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, who took home five regular-season MVPs during his legendary career, believed that Wade might have been taken for granted in 2008-09.
During an interview about Wade in 2009, Jordan took a subtle shot at LeBron and Bryant while praising the Miami Heat superstar and his MVP chances.
Michael Jordan talked LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade
Jordan said that if you took LeBron off the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bryant off the Los Angeles Lakers, both teams would still be competitive. The six-time champion didn’t feel the same way about the Heat if Wade wasn’t on the team.
Behind LeBron, the Cavs won 66 games in 2008-09. They reached the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Orlando Magic defeated them in six games.
Meanwhile, the Lakers won 65 games in 2008-09. Bryant and Co. got all the way to the NBA Finals and beat Dwight Howard and the Magic in five games. It was Bryant’s fourth championship and his first without Shaquille O’Neal.
As for Wade, his Heat went only 43-39 in 2008-09 and missed the playoffs. He didn’t have another All-Star on his team, while Bryant (Pau Gasol) and LeBron (Mo Williams) each had one.
Jordan was correct to praise Wade since the Chicago native had a stellar season. However, His Airness was way off the mark in his slights toward LeBron and Bryant.
Michael Jordan was wrong about LeBron James’ Cavs and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers
LeBron averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.2 assists in 2008-09. He also had a win share of 20.3, which was first in the NBA.
If LeBron weren’t on the Cavs’ 2008-09 team, that group would have been lottery-bound. After all, Cleveland went 19-63 in 2010-11 when LeBron was on the Heat with Wade and Chris Bosh, and the King was the only main player to depart in the summer of 2010.
As for the Lakers, if Kobe weren’t on the team, that 2008-09 LA squad would have been better than the Cavs since they had Gasol, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom. However, they wouldn’t have won 65 games or come close to winning the title.
In Jordan’s defense, he may have been right about the Lakers being competitive without Bryant, but he was way off about the Cavs being competitive without LeBron. MJ was clearly sticking up for Wade, who was a Jordan Brand athlete at the time.
Flash led the league in scoring in 2008-09 and was the only game-changing player on the Heat. However, while Jordan was correct when he said the Heat would have been awful without Wade, he was wrong when he undervalued LeBron and Bryant’s importance to their respective teams.
Wade never won a regular-season MVP like Jordan, LeBron, and Bryant. However, he did capture one Finals MVP, an award Air Jordan, LBJ, and the Black Mamba all won as well.
Dwyane Wade won 2006 Finals MVP
Wade guided the Heat to the 2006 championship over the Dallas Mavericks by averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Miami came back from a 2-0 deficit behind their high-flying guard, who won Finals MVP at the young age of 24.
In Games 3-6, Wade put up 39.3 points per game while shooting 50.5% from the field. The Mavericks had zero answers for the All-Star, who averaged a staggering 18.3 free-throw attempts per game over the final four games of the series.
Jordan, LeBron, and Bryant may have all won multiple Finals MVPs, but Wade won his lone Finals MVP at the youngest age. In fact, only Magic Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Tony Parker won Finals MVP at a younger age than Wade.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.