Two signs that you've made it: Being satirized. Or getting a nickname that starts with an initial.
D-Wade has the second sign. But people are taking this earnest young man seriously.
To the uninitiated, that's the cool way to refer to Dwyane Wade. But you can just call him the most valuable player in the NBA Finals.
Wade plays guard on Miami Heat, which bested the Dallas Mavericks, 95-92 in Game 6 of a hard-won NBA Finals tournament this season.
Inarguably, the Miami guard had solid help: a certain soft-spoken giant named Shaquille O'Neal comes to mind, as does Alonzo Mourning. At age 35 and 37, respectively, neither hoops artist played like the indomitable court force he once was. But coach Pat Riley — still respected and reviled in Gotham after leaving his watch over the moribund New York Knicks — surprised the world with a drastic overhaul of the team roster when he came on board in December.
Riley knew the 24-year-old Wade would be just the jigsaw puzzle-piece that would create a synergy with these b-ball legends, young blood linking with mature strength like RNA with DNA.
Shaq knew it too. He promised, a la sepia-toned MLB icon Babe Ruth and glitzy NFL maestro Joe Namath, a win. And of his vow that Miami would get the title, the postman declared Tuesday night, "I made that promise because of D-Wade. I knew he was a special player."
And Wade brought home the bacon, giving Pat Riley his first championship in 18 years.
So Tuesday night, Shaq's mighty hands physically delivered unto Wade the trophy as the NBA declared the latter its season MVP. The exhilaration, the press, the speeches, the party.
Now, of course, the endorsements. The talented Heat player will enjoy deals with Nike's Converse, Topps, hiphop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' upscale-hip clothier Sean John, and PepsiCo's Gatorade. Wade told Forbes.com that there are a "couple of other things on the table," too. His famed No. 3 is the biggest-selling NBA jersey, and he says the MVP title "sounds good every time I hear that."
But the talented hoopster isn't just about the money or the acclaim. Wade avers that "kids are our future," and he vows to do his bit to help underprivileged children. Thus, he says he particularly respects Mourning not just as a player, but for the latter's work with youngsters who need a helping hand.
Unlike champs of the past like, say, Charles Barkley, infamous for his ego, Wade's humility shines through: He praises his teammates as "guys I grew up admiring," who are now "passing the torch to me." He credits "everyone who helped," including family and coaches, and cites his own "hard work and dedication," as well as "a strong will."
Yes, all those made D-Wade one of Miami's strongest points. Counterpoint: What were Dallas' weaknesses? Most point to the Mavs' tumultuous melange of youth and talent: fast, enthusiastic and skilled — but inexperienced and sometimes not reactive enough, especially when it comes to the center and the point guard.
One notes the metaphysics of the owner-player relationship, a certain Shakespearean Hotspur significance: Few owners are as passionate as the Mavericks' brash Mark Cuban — another hybrid of talent, smarts and relative inexperience. After all, the billionaire cyber-genius made his fortune via a one-off deal with Yahoo! in 1999, the quintessence of the dot-com tycoon.
But if Cuban and his team should lose faith, they can look at D-Wade for inspiration. After all, as of Tuesday night, Shaq has his fourth championship, Riley his fifth. And Miami and Wade each have their first. Young billionaires and ballplayers alike can achieve great things in America.
Now, cue the parade.