Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wade one of NBA Live's most successful cover players

NBA Live may not carry the same "cover curse" that has seen NFL players struck down by injury the same year they appeared on Madden's box, but so far no player has won the NBA championship the same season their likeness has graced NBA Live's cover. The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade could soon change that.
Wade's hot shooting sank the Pistons in 6With the Heat's Game 6 victory over the defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons, Wade becomes just the third player to advance to the NBA Finals in the same season he appeared he on the cover of NBA Live. Already a standout player and two-time All-Star, Wade's selection as the cover player for NBA Live 06 would seem particularly apt should the Heat win the championship. After all, who better to represent the 2005/2006 season than the young star player who took his team all the way?
It seems fitting that Flash's performance in the Eastern Conference Finals seemed to come straight out of a video game. Against one of the toughest defensive teams in the league Wade shot 58-94 (61%) from the field whilst averaging 26.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 5.5 apg. Through the first four games of the series he averaged over 30 ppg on a blistering 69% from the field. Battling the flu in Game 6 he turned in 14 points and 10 assists as the Heat advanced to the final round for the first time in franchise history.
Miami's starting lineup boasts two other players who have graced the cover of NBA Live; Shaquille O'Neal (NBA Live 96) and Antoine Walker (NBA Live 99). Former Heat point guard and Crossover King Tim Hardaway also appeared on the cover of NBA Live 98 while Shaq was also the cover player for rival NBA 2K6 this year.
Before Dwyane Wade, the most recent player to lead his team to the NBA Finals the same year as appearing on the NBA Live cover was New Jersey's Jason Kidd in 2003, though the Nets would fall to the Spurs 4-2. Like Kidd, Wade finished in the top ten in MVP voting this year and had a fine all around season receiving All-NBA Second Team honours and representing the East at the All-Star Game. Should Wade and the Heat succeed where Kidd and the Nets did not, he will have completed the best season for a player appearing on the NBA Live cover that same year.
The task won't be easy however. With Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks also advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in club history the Heat will have to maintain the form that carried them past the Pistons if they want to successfully cap off what has turned out to be an outstanding Playoff run. No doubt both teams are ready and willing to prove their mettle when the NBA Finals tip off June 8th in Dallas.
A look back at the cover players' performance the same year they were on the box
NBA Live
Robert Horry/John Starks
NBA Live 95's cover featured a photo from the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks with Robert Horry and John Starks in the foreground. Horry and the Rockets would repeat in 1995.
Shaquille O'Neal
Started for the East at the All-Star Game in San Antonio, made the All-NBA Third team and led Orlando to a 60 win season. Swept by the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Mitch Richmond
Was All-NBA Second Team and voted to the Western All-Stars as a reserve. The Kings however went 34-48 and did not make the Playoffs.
Tim Hardaway
All-Star, All-NBA Second Team. Miami won the Atlantic Division winning 55 games but lost 3-2 to the New York Knicks in the first round.
Antoine Walker
Shot a career high 36.9% from downtown (65-176). Boston went 19-31 in the lockout shortened 1999 season.
Tim Duncan
All-NBA First Team, Co-All-Star MVP with Shaquille O'Neal. Injured late in the season and did not compete in 2000 Playoffs. The defending champion Spurs were beaten 3-1 by Phoenix in the first round.
Kevin Garnett
All-NBA Second Team, Starter for Western All-Stars. Averaged 22 ppg, 11.4 rpg and 5 apg leading Minnesota to a 47-35 record but fell to the Spurs 3-1 in the first round.
Steve Francis
Averaged a career high 21.6 ppg and 7 rpg, starting for the West in the All-Star Game. Played only 57 games however while the Rockets went 28-54 and did not qualify for the Playoffs.
Jason Kidd
All-NBA Second Team, voted to Eastern All-Stars as a reserve. Led the Nets to second straight NBA Finals appearance but lost to the San Antonio Spurs 4-2.
Vince Carter
Selected as a starter for the Eastern All-Stars. Played in 73 games after missing 39 the previous season. Toronto went 33-49 and did not qualify for the Playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony
MVP of the 2005 Rookie/Sophomore Challenge. Denver won 49 games before losing 4-1 to the Spurs in the first round.
Dwyane Wade
Starter for the East All-Stars, All-NBA Second Team, 6th in MVP voting. Helped Heat to first NBA Finals appearance in team history.


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12:50 AM  

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