By G Moniy
HHV Sports Staff Writer
Sit down, kids, it’s story time and the story is about Dwyane Wade, a man who used to be great. The year was 2006 and Wade did the impossible, as LeBron James was coming into his own and Kobe Bryant scored 81 points. D-Wade got the chip, though, in convincing fashion.
Within a year, Dwyane Wade went through an injury most players never come back from. Not only did he come back, he came back stronger than ever. One thing was clear, though, the Miami Heat team he left in 2007 was not the same one he came back to in 2009.
If Kobe Bryant could get Pau Gasol and become a champion two more times and credit as the best in the new era, D-Wade was owed something too. Either 2010 Amare Stoudemire in a midseason trade, or Chris Bosh, to help him be great. But, the move Wade brokered left him and the Miami Heat with nothing, in the end.
Dwyane Wade just wrapped his first, and probably last, season with a Chicago Bulls team he never fit on. Still, they somehow managed to almost beat Isaiah Thomas and his emerging Boston Celtics. That was probably more due to how weak the East is, as opposed to how good the Bulls were, seeing how they traded Jimmy Butler to rebuild, leaving Wade all alone, as the team rebuilds, and his former Heat missed out on Gordon Hayward.
Truth be told, it should have never come down to this, where Dwyane Wade is currently at. He should be transitioning into veteran mode with the Miami Heat, as they develop a new crop of talent, giving Cleveland the run for their money they deserve. Again, being honest, here, in no way, shape, form, or fashion, should Dwyane Wade have ever been teammates with LeBron James, nor should he hold the franchise record for points in a game.
But, that’s just one of many things with his own Miami Heat franchise that Dwyane Wade gave to LeBron James, for no apparent reason, seeing how the 2014 offseason went. Truth be told, in 2009, Dwyane Wade had every ability to break Glen Rice’s record for points in a game, 56, in 1995. Instead of going for 57, Wade sat the rest of the Knicks game out, for whatever reason.
Five years after Wade refused to set the Heat’s record for points in a game at home against the Knicks, the franchise’s biggest rival, at the time, LeBron James had no qualms breaking the record against the Bobcats. But, that type of behavior from Dwyane Wade is nothing new. His rookie season was the last time Wade embraced being a leader, but even then he preferred to be under Eddie Jones’ shadow.
In the 2004 playoffs, Dwyane Wade stepped up big, leading the Heat to a seven-game thrilling victory against the fading New Orleans Hornets, before giving Reggie Miller and Jermaine O’Neal’s Pacers a good run for their money, before losing. That playoff run led Shaquille O’Neal to Miami, via trade from the Lakers, later that summer. Even then, Wade was quietly, averaging 24 points a game, while Shaq was snubbed against Steve Nash for MVP, averaging 22 a game, if anything, Wade was snubbed, as the 2005 Heat won 59 games due to him.
The 2005 playoffs put Dwyane Wade on the map, as he carried the Heat to a sweep over the New Jersey Nets, a team better than their eight seed 42-40 record would suggest, with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson leading the way. In that series, Shaq dealt with injuries, missing two games, as Wade led the Heat to another sweep against Gilbert Arenas’ Wizards. Wade led the Heat to be the first team to sweep two best-of-seven NBA series.
Ultimately, the 2005 Miami Heat ran into a determined and dirty defending-champion Detroit Pistons. The beauty of that squad was that they had no real star, their whole starting five led the team. Their core of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups ran Shaq out of LA and denied Karl Malone his first title. A Dwyane Wade rib injury prevented the Heat from playing the Spurs in the Finals, as Detroit won in 7.
Key trades for James Posey, Jason Williams, and Antoine Walker, plus signing Gary Payton were supposed to make the Heat unstoppable, the first-ever 73-9 team, even. But, early in the 2005-2006 season, Shaq got injured in a close loss to Indiana, and, despite Wade’s efforts, the Heat didn’t even look like a playoff team. Not even Pat Riley coming back to coach and Shaq returning from injury could save the Heat, as the Mavericks wore them out, 112-76.
It was then, when it looked like Dwyane Wade really turned the corner, because the Heat came back home for a Sunday afternoon ABC game, against the Detroit Pistons. Their main rivals, at the time, the Pistons were dominating the Heat, every time they played. But, after going up 13, early in the fourth quarter against Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 17 straight points for a 100-98 Heat win. That sparked a 10-game win streak for the Heat.
Momentum was on the Miami Heat’s side, behind a confident Dwyane Wade, despite the Heat only going 52-30, seven less wins from the previous season. In the first round, the Chicago Bulls killed Miami’s momentum, and during one of the Bulls’ blowout wins, Wade, Gary Payton, and Jason Williams were arguing on the bench. But, they closed the Bulls out in a Miami Game 6, where Shaq took it back to 2001 on them.
After a blowout Game 1 loss, at home, to the Nets, the Heat swept the next four games to set up a rematch with their rival Pistons. Momentum from that comeback win carried over, as Miami scored the first 11 points of Game 1, en route to stealing Game 1 on the road. The Pistons would get wins, but nothing that’d get them in that series, as heroic efforts from Wade took the Heat to a 3-1 lead, and a 4-2 series win.
Their first Finals appearance was also the Dallas Mavericks’ first Finals appearance, a rematch the Heat desperately wanted. Unlike the regular season, Miami played strongly against Dallas in Game 1, taking 30-22 lead into the second quarter, where it all fell apart, and Dallas blew them out. Game 2 was more of the same, although the Heat managed to make the game a contest, before falling 99-85.
When the series shifted to Miami, the Heat dominated the first half and it looked like they’d score an easy win. But, the Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard trio (before NBA trios were popular) had other plans, and closed the game out, going up 13 in the final minutes of the game. With five fouls on him, Dwyane Wade pulled off an improbable performance, where he rescued the Heat, Gary Payton hit the go-ahead, and Wade intercepted an overtime-causing Hail Mary that would’ve led to a Dallas overtime win.
Momentum shifted and Dwyane Wade had the most-memorable NBA Finals performance, until LeBron James led his Miami Heat against the San Antonio Spurs. But, in 2006, Wade was being hailed as the second coming of Michael Jordan, but it was the beginning of the end. For starters, the Bulls beat them by 44 on opening night, where they got their rings, and then they struggled against Allen Iverson’s falling apart Sixers, among other weak teams.
Ultimately, the Heat had the worst title defense in NBA history, losing in a sweep to the Bulls in the first season where the league regulated playoff seedings to ensure the top two teams met no sooner than the Conference Finals. It was good for the game, to prevent another 2006 Dallas/Denver situation (look it up), but horrible for the Heat. If they hadn’t faced the Bulls, no question, the Heat would have faced a Nets team they could easily beat and a Cavs team they would have beaten, likely a classic Wade vs. LeBron series fans were robbed of, due to Wade and LeBron, before facing a beatable Pistons team, leading into a sweep in the Finals against San Antonio.
But, the 44-38 season, plus the sweep, was only the middle of the beginning of the end. In early 2007, Wade separated his shoulder and injured his knee, something that hobbled the Heat, despite their strong play without him in the lineup. The next season, Wade had to sit out and the Heat lost James Posey, a returned Eddie Jones, and other core members, replacing them with Ricky Davis, which sports pundits initially thought could compete with Boston’s new trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, LOL.
Soon, Shaq was traded to the Suns, and Shawn Marion played for the Heat, and then Miami had a do-over overtime with the Hawks, which they lost. See, most people don’t remember any of that, because Wade barely played that season, Pat Riley barely coached, and the Heat rarely won. That’s the year they went 15-67 and everyone tuned out of their games, but shout out Udonis Haslem, he’s a real one for that season.
Anyway, Dwyane Wade took the season off to spend time working on himself for the 2008-2009 season. The Heat roster was depleted, but Dwyane Wade was superhuman, giving the Heat wins over the league-best 66-16 Cavs, led by MVP LeBron James, the defending-champion Boston Celtics, the San Antonio Spurs, in San Antonio, and the eventual Eastern Conference champions, Orlando Magic.
The strong run came to an end against the Atlanta Hawks, in the 2009 playoffs, despite Miami taking a 2-1 lead, and taking the Hawks to seven games. Then, the Heat had an essentially identical 2010 season, with Wade continuing his heroics, but they failed to beat Cleveland or Boston, but beat Orlando twice. Ultimately, they faced the Celtics in the first round, losing in five, and Dwyane Wade infamously said it was his last time going home early.
He would be right and he deserved Chris Bosh coming to Miami and that was enough to compete with Cleveland, that is, if LeBron James wanted to compete. Turns out, LeBron didn’t want to compete, at least not in the way people would assume. In 2010, there was only one threat to his legacy, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade, so his decision to join Wade in Miami, and Wade’s decision to take a secondary role, opened the door for LeBron to not only be the Heat’s leader in every category that matters, but also this whole era.
Yeah, Dwyane Wade saw his titles balloon from one to three, but LeBron James was the 2012 and 2013 NBA Finals MVP, as he was the regular season MVP those seasons. Wade never won an MVP for the Heat and he should’ve brought the franchise’s first season MVP home in his name, but his decision to be LeBron’s number two cost him that. From 2010 until 2014, that meant nothing, but in 2016, when Wade wanted the max contract, it meant a lot.
Thing was, Wade DID take pay cuts for LeBron James to join the Heat, and then to stay with the Heat in 2014. By that time, LeBron proved himself more valuable than Dwyane Wade and that’s Dwyane Wade’s fault. Though he re-signed in 2015, in 2016, he decided to stand on principle, so he joined the Bulls for the same type of deal, to still be number two, this time to Jimmy Butler, and even then they only went 41-41.
So, when it comes to the legendary basketball players, Dwyane Wade is left off the list, as he should be, because that’s what he chose to do, be second fiddle. Now, he’s got one of two options, try to stay on a rebuilding Bulls’ team that doesn’t really want him and lose, or go play a reserve role with the Cavs and LeBron again, to continue that legacy of being under him. Heck, maybe Miami might take him, but Dwyane Wade is NOT the franchise player, by choice.
Watch Dwyane Wade’s career highlights below:
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