Dwyane Wade’s final regular season home game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami against the 76ers on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 marks the end of a legendary 16-year NBA career. A career that included three NBA championships, an NBA Finals MVP award in 2006, 13 All-Star appearances, 8x All-NBA team selections, and the Miami Heat all time leader in scoring, steals, and assists. It will be nothing short of a spectacle tonight in Miami so in honor of Wade’s last home game, let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive Wade’s career.
The First Dance-Rookie Season
Turn the clock back to Wade’s “first dance” back in 2003. Wade’s first NBA game took place in Philadelphia where he matched up against Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson. Despite the loss, Wade showcased his skills and potential as he dropped 18 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Wade would go on and put together a great rookie campaign, as he was named as an unanimous selection to the All-Rookie team thanks to a stat line of 16.2 points, 4.5 assists, and 4 rebounds a game. This was just the beginning for the guard out of Marquette as he was on his way to becoming a face of the league for the next decade plus.
The Legacy Beings
Wade’s game, recognition and legacy grew when the Miami Heat acquired Shaquille O’Neal in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The duo would make the 2006 NBA Finals where they matched up with Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. After being down 0-2 to the Mavericks and down 13 points with just 7 minutes remaining in Game 3, the stage was set for Wade to make his mark in history. In those final 7 minutes, the 24 year old Wade would score 12 of his 42 points and lead the Heat to a thrilling game 3 comeback win to save the series. Boy did he save the series as his spark would carry over to games 4,5 and 6 of the series as the Wade led Heat won 4 straight games to win the franchises first NBA championship. Wade was named Finals MVP and for good reason as he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 steals.
Dwyane Wade 2006 NBA Finals highlights. ??
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) March 25, 2017
2007 would be a rough year for Wade as he battled shoulder and knee injuries which would require surgical procedures to fix. And in 2008, Wade returned with a vengeance averaging 30.2 points per game ,which was enough to win the NBA scoring title. Despite the individual success, the Heat would struggle to reach the championship heights they did in 2006. A first round exit via the Atlanta Hawks in 2008, followed up by another first round exit in 2009 where they were overpowered by the Boston Celtics “Big 3.”
The Big 3 Era in South Beach
The summer of 2010 where Wade, along with Pat Riley changed the course of NBA history. Pat Riley lured LeBron James and Chris Bosh to South Beach to team up with Wade to form their own Big 3 to combat the Celtics. Though Wade took a back seat to LeBron as the best player on the team, he seen the bigger picture: championships. The 2003 draft class baby faces turned full heel and thrived as the NBA villains for the next couple of years. From 2011-2014, Wade would find himself in the NBA Finals each June. After being upset by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, Wade and the Heat redeemed themselves by defeating the OKC Thunder in 5 games where Wade averaged 22/6/5 on his way to his second NBA championship. He would win his third and final championship in the classic 2013 NBA Finals where the Heat comeback from down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs. In that series Wade averaged 19.6/4/4.6
After the 2014 NBA Finals loss, LeBron James went back home to Cleveland, ending the Big 3 era in Miami. From here on out Wade failed to reach the NBA Finals, nor did he have much playoff success as his health declined and Mother Nature did her thing. Wade would have a short sting with his hometown Bulls and a cup of coffee with the Cleveland Cavaliers before returning back to “Wade County” to play his final 2 seasons with the Miami Heat.
One Last Dance
Before the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA season Wade announced this would be his final season, or his “one last dance.”
All season long Wade has been on his farewell tour, being honored in each road game, and trading jerseys with many along the way. Over the course of the season Wade gave us flashes of his greatness.
To celebrate his #OneLastDance, @DwyaneWade has been swapping jerseys with NBA legends. Before his final season ended, we surprised him with three more. Watch how it all unfolds. #ThisBudsFor3 pic.twitter.com/Ga0pn3aGIX
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) April 9, 2019
His insane one legged game winner against the Warriors, dubbed the “one last dance” game winner will go down as an iconic moment in his historic career.
History repeats itself! Which one of these 2/27 @DwyaneWade game winners was your fave? #KiaTopPlay
RT for 2019 vs the Warriors
LIKE for 2018 vs the Sixers
Vote to win tix or signed merch. Rules: https://t.co/R98HcvhpZc pic.twitter.com/IN8Tpj35l6
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 3, 2019
Wade has plenty left in the tank if he chose to continue playing, but he is choosing to go out on his terms and there is beauty in that.
Which brings us up to date. Tonight Wade plays his finals home game in Miami, a place he basically built along with Pat Riley. There is no doubt that Wade is the best player in franchise history and tonight will definitely be an emotional rollercoaster for Wade, teammates and the entire NBA. Although Wade final game is Wednesday night in Brooklyn, it will pale in comparison to the celebration that takes place tonight in Miami.
All that is left to say is