“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.
The affliction that makes Jim Carrey’s Charlie Baileygates/Hank Evans such a memorable character in the Farrelly brothers’ comedy Me, Myself & Irene is the same that frames the 2015 iteration of the Miami Heat as fun and frustrating, exhilarating and horrifying, frenetic and sluggish. Sometimes exhibiting the demeanor of sensitive good guy Charlie, other times bullying like bad boy Hank and, on rare occasion, listless like the portrayal of Renée Zellweger’s Irene; this basketball team definitely suffers from advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage.
The Heat are currently (16-10) and 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Play of late has been uneven and inconsistent. The team goes through stretches, mainly in the early 1st and 3rd quarters, where the starting five look like they’ve never even met each other before. At times, the offense looks like a five man pick up scrimmage at the local Y rather than an organized scheme. The defense has a very 2013 Miami Heat switch flipping quality to it, but this version is neither as athletic nor as able to take advantage of fast breaks as the Flying Death Machine days of yore.
Yet, when things click and the trio of Wade, Bosh and Dragic begin humming in the pick and roll game and Deng and rookie Justise Winslow’s defense are on lockdown and Whiteside starts swatting and flexing, the Heat look like contenders. At least in the Eastern Conference.
In short, this team is nuts. So the Charlie/Hank/Irene dynamic fits into how I’ve been watching Heat games lately. If you were to consider the characters in the movie as the three segments of the human psyche (id, ego, superego), for instance, Charlie would be the part of the ego that convinces you to stay home Saturday night because your cat might get lonely.
Thus, there is very little Charlie in one Mr. Dwyane Wade. It only really exudes in the manner in which advanced stats tell the story of his season. Wade is undergoing a mild renaissance in terms of playing time as he’s only missed a single game this season. He’s currently averaging 18.5 ppg (8th*), and is in the top 10 of NBA shooting guards in a variety of categories. You’d also notice that while he is 3rd among qualified shooting guards in assists per game at 4.5, he is also bottom 5 in turnovers per game with 2.5. Split personality much? Furthermore, Wade ranks top 10 in blocks and when he is active the number of blocks the Heat generate increases significantly, but the numbers show us that when he is not on the court the team’s overall defense improves. What is this madness?
Let’s move on. To me, the Irene character is the uneven, unsure, waffling voice that is innate in all of us. When Wade gets in his Irene, he tends to play with an attitude of slovenly expectation, questioning the reliability of his teammates and going full hero mode. Let’s be honest with each other, okay? Witnessing the soon to be 34 year old shooting guard cross over defenders and get to the rim is a phenomenally enjoyable experience. Watching him miss a layup because he expects the foul to be called and then the ensuing argument with the referee instead of getting back on defense makes me wish I was this cow:
The cow pictured above is also a metaphor for Dwyane Wade’s desire to take ill-advised, long jumpers in the 4th quarter of close games. And the homicidal state trooper is a metaphor for the process I wish Erik Spoelstra would use to explain how efficiency works.
“Oh yeah? Well, this is just a fist. But when I start throwing it around, it can leave one hell of a mess.” -Hank Evans
And thus, we come to the fun part of the article. My favorite character in Me, Myself & Irene is Hank Evans. I think he won me over when he said, “Yes, I tricked you. It was deceitful, it was disgusting and despicable. But just for once, see it from my side.” Hank Evans is a cocky, foul-mouthed, don’t give a flip** archetype who exists as an unstoppable confidence machine that hands out one-liners and challenges like Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are handing out Ls. Did I mention that Dwyane Wade is Hank Evans on a basketball court?
The range and sheer number of brilliant plays made night to night that keep your head shaking and faith strong in the Hall of Famer continue a career of excellence. This version of Wade emerges when the shooting guard puts the team on his back and says “I got this.” And don’t be fooled, this team desperately needs him to turn this on from time to time. There are moments when the Heat offense crumbles into Gerald Green chuck and pray shots, and it is in these moments that Wade’s veteran savvy, will and guile are needed.
When Wade responds, it is usually with the same kind of emphatic resonance that Hank would appreciate. In the Heat’s 100-97 home win against the Grizzlies, Wade made several key plays on both sides of the ball to secure an end to the team’s three game losing streak culminating in this jumpshot with 21.9 seconds left followed by a Hank-esque string of obscenities, some incredible defensive focus and then the win.
It has been said that most of the time the crazy creeps up on you.
“Listen, Pocahontas, unless you put your ear to the ground, you’ll never hear the buffalo comin’!” -Hank Evans
And sometimes the crazy was there all along.
Hassan Whiteside is an NBA anomaly. His stats, attitude, play style, physical and mental aptitudes and a myriad of other effects and mutant factoids make up the cartoon character that plays center for the Miami Heat. The brash, talented big man with a penchant for dunking, posing, sulking and settling exhibits a multiple personality that is part DJ Khaled, part Ben Wallace, and part 13 year old PantsFreeZone when he asked for a baseball themed birthday party and was given a Cowboys and Indians one instead. (You were right, mom. The cap guns made me the most popular kid in school for a week.)
The guy who pierced the world’s heart saying “I’m just trying to get my NBA2K rating up.” after blocking 12 shots against the Bulls could be none other than good, old Charlie. Bringing youthful exuberance and mirth with a tiny amount of smug and a massive amount of ego into everything he touches, this season Whiteside is ranked top 10 in rebounds, field goal percentage and double doubles. Oh, and he’s pretty good at blocking the basketball.
Blocks. Hmmm. How to explain how dominant in this category Hassan Whiteside has been….
There we go. Do I need to point out how ridiculously lopsided those numbers are between #1 and #2 in the league? Allow me to sum it up like this: Hassan Whiteside is doing to blocks what Steph Curry is doing to 3 point shooting.
Whiteside’s emotional and mental state are where you’ll find his inner Irene. You’ll see it when teams go to Hack-A-Hassan and he misses a few free throws in a row. It rears up when he finds himself sitting on the bench in the 4th quarter. Social media is his muse and will probably one day lead to him being arrested by the Rhode Island State Police.
But boy oh boy, Hank Whiteside is fun. Always ready to rock, bringing thunderous putbacks, monster dunks off of perfectly executed and placed Dwyane Wade alley oops, blocks into fast breaks, blocks into the stands, blocks into orbit. Hassan Whiteside giving a poo** is one of the few legitimate times you have a chance to see an athlete do something extraordinary. It is electric; like I assume doing meth and pop rocks would feel.
“He may have advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. But he is a very gentle person!” -Jamaal
Perhaps no other member of the Miami Heat personifies advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage better than Goran Dragic. On any given night, you might have witnessed all three versions of Dragic playing in the same game. It has been a very weird and strange first quarter of the season for the Slovenian Slasher.
Goran Dragic’s superego and Dwyane Wade’s id have been doing battle all year leading to drops in every category across the board for the point guard except assists, which has probably been generated due to an early reluctance to shoot while in the middle of a career worst shooting slump. Scoring 5 points less per game, down .7% points in FG% and shooting just 26% from three (which includes an insanely terrible corner three percentage), nice guy Charlie was on display in the early part of the season as I seriously contemplated suggesting we change his well known moniker to “Toothless” of How To Train Your Dragon fame.
The only time Dragic exemplifies Irene is when he plays off while Wade dominates the ball. Amid his shooting woes, he was a reluctant spacer and rarely made the types of cuts that allowed Wade to operate at peak efficiency. Thankfully, the two stars have learned to play and communicate with each other as of late. And the emergence of Hank the Dragon has been an enjoyable viewing experience.
The tooth. In a season-in-a-nutshell moment for the Heat PG, Goran Dragic took an Al Horford elbow to the face, was whistled for a foul and ended up on his ass staring up at the roof of Phillips Arena missing a chunk of his incisor. A handful of minutes later, the gritty guard was back on the court leading the team to a tough victory.
The Dragon is coming. Like winter or in-laws or the next season of the Miami Dolphins, it is inevitable. Since losing that tooth, Goran has been more aggressive attacking the rim, more confident in his jumpshot and even got ejected from a game for violently asking ‘What?’. From Toothless to savage beast sans a fang, the draconic blood of The Dragon pumps hot, fierce and chaotic. Looking on, Hank Evans weeps.
Clearly, the 2015 Miami Heat are the product of a deranged mind. The bastard child of Sheogorath and Lyssa. The entirety of the Trump presidential candidacy. With three quarters of the season remaining, I look forward to seeing what this brand of insanity continues to produce. Will it be on par with my favorite bit of madness the internet ever created?
*All rankings are based off nba.com and were pulled from: HERE