In analyzing exciting basketball plays, we have a tendency to identify extremely impressive athleticism as an innate gift that expresses itself freely. If a player out-runs, or out-jumps or out-quicks the opposition, the assumption is that he was able to do it because we was born with the ability to do so.
Luckily, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James disprove that idea on a regular basis. In the third quarter of Wednesday night's game against the Houston Rockets, they did so again. With 7:11 remaining in the period, Udonis Haslem won a jump ball against Jeremy Lin. Wade grabbed the ball and immediately fired a 3/4-court one-handed baseball pass to LeBron. He caught it near the rim and laid the ball in for an unlikely and really, really impressive alley-oop.
It was all very athletic. But it was also clearly a designed play, one that only could have happened if the Heat had practiced it many times over a long period of time. Wade had to be in the right position to catch it, James had to know when to run, and they both had to understand when the other would be able to complete the play. At the same time, it's only possible because both players (particularly LeBron) are such athletic marvels. It didn't happen just because of athleticism or practice — the two players joined the two to create an unbelievable highlight.
In other news, the Heat won 114-108 with James and Wade combining for 63 points on 20 of 36 shooting. Those guys are good.
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