“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”
We can talk numbers. We can tally up the awards, banners and rings. We can talk about the 13 years of professionalism since he was drafted #5 out of Marquette. But instead, I can simply write three lines as an opening to this article and give the reader such obvious static information, then move on.
Dwyane Wade may have been born and raised in Robbins, Illinois, but for many of us he became a man in the South Florida heat, the 2006 playoffs down 0-2 to Dallas with .6 seconds to go. He would grow his myth while playing for Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley under intense scrutiny after winning the big one in only his third season in the league.
Being elevated to mythic levels, especially in title starved South Florida, only seemed to drive Wade to greater heights and feats. The steal and game winner against Chicago in Miami, a play that culminated in Wade leaping onto the announcer’s table and declaring “This is my house!”, seems like an eerie foreshadowing. The bright, happy moments before George R.R. Martin writes the inevitable tragedy into the book, probably chuckling as he does. Now we can only look back on the greatness and smile and nod and maybe feel a twinge of regret that we didn’t appreciate it a little harder.
2003 to 2016 were 13 of the best, craziest sports years a fan base will ever get to experience, and we got to ride the whole way with Flash. Mr. 305. DWade. 3. Miami Legend.
Part of that legend has been watered down in recent years by agent tweets and attempts at leverage, but the truth is that Dwyane Wade never failed to sacrifice. For his friends, his team, and for winning. Money, career accolades, stats, and exposure were never above making the Miami Heat the absolute best they could be while he was here.
Miami and South Florida will always ride with #3. We’ll cheer him when he comes back to the AAA. We’ll be there when the Heat organization raises his jersey into the rafters. We’ll raise a fist in pride when the Arisons put up the statue of him yamming on Anderson Varejao. Heat fans will be the ones clamoring the loudest when Dwyane finally goes into the Hall of Fame.
Thank you, Dwyane. For being a good man, a great teammate and an amazing player. For every alley-oop you’ve tossed, every big man you’ve blocked, every bankshot you’ve hit, every ovah-dey-head you did, every And-1, every ring, every win.