“With the fifth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat select Dwyane Wade from Marquette University” – Former NBA Commissioner, David Stern.
Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr., a kid from Robbins, Illinois has just made it to the big stage. The 6’4 guard out of Marquette averaged 19.7ppg, 6.5rpg and 3.9apg, and was ready to take on the NBA at the age of 22. The 2003 NBA Draft, known as one of the best draft classes in NBA History, wasn’t all about D-Wade, though. The draft featured future teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh, as well as superstar, Carmelo Anthony. The main focus was on James and Anthony, respectively.
Fast forward to Wade’s rookie season. He played in 61 of the 82 games, while starting 56 of them. He finished the season with averages of 16.2ppg, 4.0rpg and 4.5apg. He didn’t win rookie of the year, thanks to LeBron James, but it was a solid rookie season as he led the Miami Heat (42-40) to the playoffs. Wade led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which they were defeated by the Indiana Pacers. The series before that featured a Dwyane Wade game-winner vs the formerly known, New Orleans Hornets.
Fast forward to the 2005-2006 season. Wade’s third season in the league featured a Miami Heat team with Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton. The Heat finished 52-30 and reached the NBA Finals. If you did not believe Dwyane Wade was a star at this point, then I am 99% sure your mind changed after the 2005-06 NBA Finals. The Heat faced a Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas Mavericks, who quickly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Heat.
It is hard to put into words how incredible Wade was, especially after falling down 0-2. In what is known as one of the most controversial NBA Finals ever, due to the amount of free throw attempts Wade shot, the Heat rallied to win the series 4-2 to capture Miami’s first NBA Championship. Wade posted averages of 34.7ppg, 7.8rpg and 3.8apg.
At this point, Dwyane Wade was Miami. With Wade on the court, the Heat were always a threat. D-Wade stuck with this team through the 5 NBA Finals appearance and also the rough patches, including the 2007-08 season where the Heat only won 15 games. Granted, Wade only played in 51 games as he dealt with injury, but the season was hideous, to say the least.
The Decision. Arguably the NBA’s best player at the time, LeBron James announces that he will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and join Wade and the Miami Heat. That’s not all. Chris Bosh, who averaged 24 and 10 the season prior, joined the Heat, too. Uh-oh. This shook the NBA. We all remember LeBron saying that the Heat will win “Not 1, Not 2, Not 3, etc” championships, right? That only made the other 29 NBA teams want to take them out even more. The trio, along with role players such as Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, etc. would go on to play in 4 straight NBA Finals, winning 2 of them.
2011: Loses to Dallas, 4-2
2012: Defeats Oklahoma City, 4-1
2013: Defeats San Antonio, 4-3
2014: Loses to San Antonio, 4-1
The 2014 loss to the Spurs prompted a LeBron James return back home to Cleveland. This left Wade and Bosh.
Then came the 2015 off-season. I wrote about it, and you can read it here.
Then comes the 2016 off-season. I’m pretty sure all Heat fans, including myself, thought that Pat Riley had this under control. As a matter of fact, we were so confident, we thought Riley would re-sign Dwyane Wade, emerging Center, Hassan Whiteside AND bring in Thunder superstar, Kevin Durant.
Boy, were we wrong.
Days go by, still no Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat deal. Rumors swirl that Wade was growing frustrated with the organization, and would meet with other teams such as the Bucks and Nuggets.
July 6, 2016, 9:29pm ET: Breaking: Dwyane Wade expected to leave Heat and sign with Bulls – sources; 12-time All-Star won 3 NBA titles with Miami. (ESPN)
My heart dropped. I was in such shock and disbelief. The player who made me a Miami Heat fan is leaving the franchise that he made HIS. How could he? Better yet, how could Pat Riley let him walk?
As tears ran from my eyes, I started to question if I even wanted to watch the NBA anymore. I even slept in my D. Wade “shirsey” that night, and told myself I would not wear it again. The text messages came, and the notifications about Dwyane Wade’s decision kept coming to my phone. It only upset me even more.
Dwyane Wade is my favorite player, and is the reason I am a Heat fan. He is who I try to model my game after when I go to the gym to play a pick-up game of basketball. He was a role model. When I got into an argument about who was the best NBA player, LeBron, Kobe, KD, Steph, etc, I always said it was Dwyane Wade.
I was 100% sure he was going to retire with the Miami Heat.
So, I sat and thought to myself about what I was going to do. Stop watching the NBA? I mean, there is no reason to watch the team that I love now, is there? Then, my dad texts me and says “Are you going to root for the Bulls?” I said, “No. Just football and baseball for me.” Then I realized, there was no way I was going to stop watching the NBA.
I will continue to be a Miami Heat fan, but Dwyane Wade is still, and will always be my favorite player, and I wish him nothing but the best in Chicago; because that is what he deserves.
As for the Miami Heat, what’s next?
- 3x NBA Champion (2006, 2012, 2013)
- 2006 Finals MVP
- 12x NBA All-Star
- 2x All-NBA First Team
- NBA Scoring Champion
- 3x All-NBA Second Team
- 3x All-NBA Third Team
- Miami Heat Franchise leader in points, assists, steals, and games played.
Just to name a few accolades.
You will always be the Miami Heat in my eyes.
Thank you, Dwyane Wade.
(P.S: I could have made this a lot longer, but did not want to waste your day)