I hear much about how great Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are, yet how their games are so much alike perhaps they don't fit on the same team together; that they cannot figure out, because of that, how to close games when both of them could be taking last shots.
It sounds plausible, but I think the truth is simpler than that.
Teams that want to win adapt to the situation, assume necessary roles, work together. It's what great players always do. The San Antonio Spurs are a perfect example, with Duncan taking a much different role from previous years and Ginobili -- in some ways the most dangerous player in the game -- coming off the bench. They, along with Tony Parker, have been together for a decade. When they can't win, they come up with another way to work together. At the moment, they seem nearly invincible.
About the Heat: let's start with Chris Bosh. Very little to say except he is not an underachiever. He's about what you expect him to be, and he pulls his weight.
Dwyane Wade has tremendous talent and great athleticism. He has his moments of explosive play, stunning effectiveness. But his only championship ring is tarnished by coming at perhaps the zenith of public distrust of NBA officiating, including comments from players and fans not associated with either the Heat or the Mavericks -- opponents in the 2006 NBA Finals -- that Wade benefited from what are called "phantom fouls." Without those controversial calls, at least two of the Heat four-in-a-row wins arguably go to Dallas, instead.
Since then, Wade has been brittle and inconsistent. His moments of brilliance are still there, but he has never exerted the sort of consistency and leadership that define a true champion. In fact, his exploits on either side of the 2006 title run are typified by his alma mater's showing in the 2003 Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament.
LeBron James, on the other hand, demonstrates significantly more leadership. The curious thing about James is that, while he is perhaps the greatest athletic talent the NBA has ever seen, his maturity and ability to close out games falls far short of those physical skills. In particular, I have always suspected James is not serious enough about his shooting skills. His physical talent and game experience are important. But having a shooting technique that is honed the way Larry Bird's is, or Dirk Nowitzki's is, gives a player the confidence that rises above physical talent.
What the world saw in the 2011 Finals -- and again so far this year -- is that Wade lacks leadership and James lacks maturity. They fade in the face of adversity. Frankly, their playoff runs in both years have been disastrous, not because the combination of their greatness could not mesh well but because the combination of their shortcomings have so far rendered the Heat incapable of winning when it counts the most.