By G Moniy
HHV Sports Contributing Writer
Ten years ago, it would’ve hard to imagine Dwyane Wade wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, ever! Especially, around this time in 2006, after those annoying Bulls beat the Heat by 42 points in Miami on ring night, a night Wade made possible. But, the impossible is possible in 2016.
There was a time, ten years ago, when Dwyane Wade was the most-unstoppable player in the NBA. His Converse shoes were even catching up to LeBron’s in sales. Finally, the world was beginning to recognize his greatness, something Miami fans saw on day one.
TIME magazine did a feature on Dwyane Wade that crowned him as the new Michael Jordan. A year prior, there was a home-made sign a Heat fan made during their 2005 Conference Finals series against the Pistons that read “The Next MJ, just Wade and see” and, just a year later, Wade played like it. Then, it was all over, faster than it began and it was a weird situation.
But, when Dwyane Wade was on top, he did it his way and it didn’t hurt that he was from Chicago and grew up watching Michael Jordan play. His own style of play was clearly inspired by Michael Jordan and Wade had his own style of leadership that worked. A lot of people like to take away from Wade’s greatness by saying he had Shaq on his team, but this wasn’t the dominant Shaq, this was the Shaq on “NBA on TNT,” pretty much.
Dwyane Wade did what Kobe Bryant was supposed to in 2004 with that 2006 team with four less wins and nobody outside of Miami believing it could be done. From the moment Shaq came, Wade played on an MVP level, despite Shaq being on the MVP ballot. The first season saw Wade averaging 24.1 points a game to Shaq’s 22.9, but that’s none of our business.
Had it not been for the rib injury in 2005, Wade would have led the Heat past the Pistons to at least the Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. But, Wade more than made up for that glitch in 2006, when he carried the Heat past the Pistons in six games. Then, Dwyane Wade made himself an NBA legend when he put on the greatest performance in NBA Finals history, with the biggest comeback ever, coming back from 0-2 down, until it wasn’t.
To say Dwyane Wade got robbed would be going very over the top, but he was due some good fortune after the 2006-2007 season, when it all fell apart for him. First, the Heat did nothing to retool his supporting cast, and then his shoulder injury put a damper on his career for the next couple of seasons, as did his knee. What Dwyane Wade deserved was a Pau Gasol to help him reinvent his career, like Kobe Bryant received.
Instead, Wade pretty much handed his career over to LeBron James, killing the potential rivalry they could have had on level playing ground. That moment in 2006 was the one time the sports world wasn’t obsessing over LeBron, but that changed when he led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, defeating the banged-up NBA East. Since then, Wade played in LeBron’s shadow… and seemed as if he liked it.
Understandably, Dwyane Wade was happy when LeBron joined him with Chris Bosh on the Heat, but someone with a reputation like his should have liked the competition more. It wasn’t until after Wade took the 2014 pay-cut for LeBron, which he spurned to go back to Cleveland, that he began competing. Just like before, there was no level playing ground because Wade was no longer the same player.
The NBA is now hyping a D-Wade/LeBron rivalry and, to Wade’s credit, he hasn’t lost a home game to LeBron, but it’s too little too late. Plus, with him making heartfelt messages on Instagram after each game pretty much makes the on-court rivalry moot. But, it’s hard to forget everything Dwyane Wade sacrificed so he could get LEBRON a ring, not to put himself back on top.
So, congratulations to Dwyane Wade and the Bulls on their win, but we’re honestly just as confused as ESPN, but we’re not joking.
Watch Dwyane Wade’s post-game interview after Cavs win below:
Watch highlights of the Bulls’ win over the Cleveland Cavaliers below:
Follow G Moniy on Twitter @G_Moniy.