Ever since LeBron’s “Decision” to take his talents to South Beach, there have been questions about how he and Dwayne Wade would play together. Last year they were sometimes erratic, awkwardly deferring to each other on the court, and sometimes amazing, creating an on the court combo that no one’s ever seen before.
This inconsistent play led to every sportscaster and analyst to ask the question “Who is Batman and who is Robin” in this pairing of young future hall of famers? When the Heat lost to Dallas in last year’s finals, in part due to LeBron’s timid shooting in the 4th quarter, many thought the question was answered: D-Wade was the Dark Knight and LeBron was the Boy Wonder.
But with their second regular season over as they head into this year’s playoffs it’s clear to me that the Batman and Robin comparison never quite made sense. LeBron and D-Wade are actually Superman and Batman, and that dynamic duo might start a march to LeBron’s first ring this Saturday.
I’m as much a comic book fan as I am a sports nut (I’ve been told this is a rare combination) so I was never quite down with the Batman and Robin argument about LeBron and Dwayne to begin with. Batman and Robin are the dynamic duo, the mentor and the mentee, the Dark Knight with his brooding pathological dedication to a War on Crime and Robin as his lighthearted Boy Wonder who brought a little fun into the gloom of Gotham. None of those dynamics ever truly fit these two Hall of Famers entering their prime, figuring out how to play together.
There was no mentoring, no light to the other’s darkness. These two banded together to battle the forces so big, so powerful (Ahem, the 2008 – 2010 Boston Celtics) that despite LeBron and D-Wade’s incredible talents they knew they could not defeat alone. That’s more like Superman and Batman than Batman and Robin.
Since the 1960’s the “World’s Finest” comic series has featured Superman and Batman (with Robin occasionally along for the ride) fighting crime together because they’re the best heroes in the world. That’s more reflective of the LeBron and D-wade dynamic, two top flight heroes with different powers learning to work together. Should they both slash into the lane? Should one of them focus on the outside shot? Who’s better in the clutch? The Miami Heat lost the 2010 finals because LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and yes even Chris Bosh, kept trying to put their skills into the Batman and Robin dynamic: Jordan and Pippen, Payton and Kemp, Stockton and Malone. This year, though, they’ve figured it out, just like the real heroes.
Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But he has one weakness, and it’s not kryptonite. LeBron is the best player in the NBA on the fast break, he’s big enough to guard the 1-5 spots, and he’s about to get his 3rd MVP award, but he and Superman share the same weakness.
They desperately want to be loved, and are afraid of their own powers.
Superman is an alien who spends his life acting like the boy-scout so people will love him. He spouts Truth, Justice and the American way because deep down he knows people will be afraid of him if he unleashes his full potential. LeBron is the same way, he does silly commercials, begs for attention, and tries desperately to be likable because deep down he knows he’s the best player on the planet, and if he plays to his full potential other players will shy away from him, he’ll be alone and isolated like Jordan or Kobe. Superman needs Batman, because Batman isn’t afraid of anything or anybody.
Batman on the other hand, is the world’s greatest detective, a regular man who through sheer force of will honed his body and mind to peak condition. He can outwit, outfight and outmaneuver people who are more gifted than him because he wills himself to do so. D-Wade isn’t the most physically gifted 2-guard in the league – but his will on the court makes him a hall of famer.
But Bat-Wade knows that for some tasks, whether it’s fighting off an alien invasion or beating a zone defense, that he can’t do it alone. Superman and Batman need each other as much as D-Wade and LeBron need each other. Superman captures the Legion of Doom, but it’s Batman who’ll break fingers during interrogation to find out where they holding Robin hostage.
So as we head into the 6 weeks of the NBA playoffs let’s let the Batman and Robin theme die. LeBron and D-Wade aren’t the Dynamic Duo: they’re the World’s Finest and this year might be their chance to finally show the world they can play together and finally win it all together. The Big 3 are already Super-friends with the clutch shooting hard fouling Dwayne Knight and the King of Steel Lebron James. The only Robin in this group is Bosh, and it’s been obvious from Day 1 he’s got no problem in that role.
DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson