As stated above, I am amazed by his game. However, his effortlessness is both a basketball virtue and a public detrement. He performs in every play with practically a straight face, as if exerting unnecessary emotion is beneath him. His clean-cut, golden boy persona has garnered money bags from the heavy-hitters in endorsements, but it seems that his popularity is massive, it isn't on the level of Lebron, Kobe, Dwight Howard or even Melo and Arenas.
Now this is based on my observations, but Wade doesn't have the "street cred" of a Melo, in the same way that Kobe couldn't reach the inner city popularity of Allen Iverson. As written in the FreeDarko book (I'm paraphrasing), "Kobe leads in jersey sales; but Iverson would get the most crowd faints walking down the street." The twist in this theory is that Wade's upbringing is anything but silver-spooned. I believe the disconnect lies in his demeanor. Even though he has some semi-humorous commercials, he doesn't portray the same charisma that Lebron does. His smile doesn't emit the same wattage as Melo's or Dwight Howard's. Even when he screams, it isn't as intimidating as some of his counterparts'. I don't know exactly why, but even though he strikes fear in the hearts of defenders, his presence isn't daunting. Wade isn't bland, just calm. His display of emotions, whether aggressiveness or playfulness, seems a little more forced than Lebron's, even if nothing could be further from his actual truth.
One factor in gaining street cred is the way one approaches the game of basketball. Other than the moments he displays his superiority, his game is far from his DC Comics nickname. The footwork on his jumper is flawless, and he has an affinity for the backboard. The structure of his approach doesn't translate to the free-spiritedness of the blacktop. Example, what would be practiced more, a Steve Nash pass or a Wade step-back jumper? While street cred isn't necessary for most to appreciate players like Wade, it does keep them from being placed above the Association's stratosphere.
Fledgling stars like Danny Granger, Brandon Roy, and Devin Harris have the talent to place them among the elites in the current Association, but of this moment lack the off-court presence to be idolized in a way that their respective games demand. They may be in your next Gatorade ad, but will have deity just out of their reach. I'm not sure if Wade is to blame, or if it traces to Kobe, or before him. But flash over substance has always been the montra among casual fans. In the Justice League of The Association, where Lebron is Superman and Kobe is The Dark Knight, Dwyane Wade isn't The Flash; but rather The Green Lantern. An unassuming, structured-but-unique, third-best player in the world, pillar of strength that while he may not every young hooper aspiring to be him, he's still essential to the NBA Universe. And he will render opposers powerless by his calm but destructive hand.