For 13 years, there were three things that Miami’s 400 thousand residents could book as a sure thing. Sunny beaches, humid summers, and Dwyane Wade. While D’Wade isn’t as natural as beaches (or humidity), it sure felt like he was a natural piece of Miami, and an ordinary part of their everyday life. For a while there, he was. Night after night, long before the “Big Three” era, D’Wade stood as Miami’s lone superstar.
He was there when Miami was scraping toward the bottom of the standings, looking for a way out. He was there when getting the Heat lifted the Larry O’Brian trophy for the first time in franchise history. He was there when the Heat were the face of dominance, on a team that won back to back titles. And, on July 15 2016, he was there to tell Miami he would NOT be there. Thus ended another chapter in Dwyane Wade’s career, one filled with as many different pages as anybody could think. But with Wade now entering his 14th NBA season, and turning 34years old, this may be the final chapter.
Wade’s bond to the Heat started way back in 2003 when they selected him with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft. That year had some of the most talented players of recent memory, so nobody knew for sure what the team had in Wade.
Nonetheless, the young shooting guard was handed the reigns right away... and it quickly paid off. The team, however, would come to know mediocrity for quite some time. So while Dwyane continued his takeover, the Heat went right along with losing. It wasn’t until Shaq joined the crew in 2004 when the team started to strike the jackpot.
It took two years, but by the time August rolled around in 2006, Shaq had something to show Kobe, and Wade had a shiny new Finals MVP trophy to put alongside his ring. This would only be the beginning for Wade, as we would all come to know.
After their first championship run, the Heat remained relatively quiet. Shaq was no longer happy with the Heat, and he would eventually move on. But Wade knew what was coming. That summer was marked by the forming of the “Big Three” where Wade was joined by LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And yeah, they would soon come to take the league by storm. But the most interesting thing in all the glory? Even with two new all-star teammates, Wade refused to take a backseat.
He adapted and changed his game, but he never let LeBron or Chris carry him to their ultimate dream. He remained a vital part of the team, and some even argued he was STILL the most important part of the franchise. Four years after the formation of that “Superteam” Wade was a three-time champion, multiple time All-Star, and had formed a new friendship with LeBron James.
But with James’ eventual departure, the Heat slowly began to wilt away. Bosh played about half the next season when he would eventually go down with blood clots, leaving Wade with a roster made up of unproven talent. As history has proven, though, he never backed down. He continued his level of dominance that he had displayed for so many years. He was proving to the world that he was not going to sleep, that he was still a force in the NBA.
Funny how a little money could change things, right? It was this past summer when Wade finally said “enough”. He had taken a pay cut for James and Bosh. He had taken a pay cut so Miami could (unsuccessfully) build a winning team around him after Bron left. He was done with the pay cuts and wanted to finally get the money that he deserved. It was ultimately this decision that led to the separation of the Wade and Heat relationship that had lasted for 13 years. For whatever reason, Pat Riley decided not to make Wade his priority. And by the end of the summer, they had did not have enough money to give Dwyane the amount he wanted.
So now, Wade is with the Chicago Bulls. A move that will end with many questions. So far, he seems to have found some magical fairy to give him a 3-point shooting touch like nobody has ever seen, and the Bulls are showing they can be a force that can contend with the big boys.
However many years Wade has left, it looks like he is in a good position for a while. So in this final chapter of his long and storied career, will Wade make a stand for a championship, or will he be wishing he never left Miami? No doubt, that will be a question we all can’t wait to be answered.