Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat

LeBron says chemistry at ‘all-time high’ with Wade


Last season, building chemistry was the underlying theme of the Heat’s season. There was very little between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during that 9-8 start — the two stars took turns watching each other, not playing off of each other. That started to change as the season wore on and into the playoffs and things looked better — until they ran into the ultimate chemistry of the Dallas Mavericks.

This season chemistry is not a problem. Never been better.

So says LeBron James, speaking to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. (Hat tip to Eye on Basketball.)

“It is at an all-time high right now, honestly,” James said of the chemistry between the two. “It is just a chemistry that we have. Last year was a blueprint for us. It is not like we look for each other more than others, it kind of just happens.

“We’re two of the fastest guys in the league when it comes to a break and it is kind of pick-your-poison with the defender, either allow me to get a dunk or allow D-Wade to get a dunk. We are two unselfish players. If a guy is open, we pass it.”

Chemistry and winning are inexorably linked in the public mind — winning teams have chemistry, losing teams do not. That deduction often comes after the fact. In the Heat’s case, the chemistry with Wade and LeBron always seems to be better when they have better players around them that forces defenders to make choices rather than focus solely on them. No doubt LeBron and Wade are more comfortable with each other on the court now than they were a year ago at this time, but the up-tempo style of play and better surrounding cast are a part of that equation, too.

It’s that whole equation that should have other teams concerned.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.