Dwyane Wade has been arguably one of the most exciting players to watch in our generation. His memorable Finals performances, and his individual accolades will make him a no question first ballot Hall of Famer. The way he leads and takes command of his troops are second to none, but lately; especially these past few years, Wade has been somewhat forgotten.
The 2006 Finals were probably the greatest individual performance in a championship series. Being down two games, with a series that looked pretty much over, Wade took over complete control of every aspect of the game. 34.7 Points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assist were his final numbers in the series, statistical achievements that haven’t been touched since the Jordan era.
With Wade on top of the basketball world, his health started to take a slide at an alarming rate. A devastating shoulder injury midway through the 2007 defending championship season, would sideline Wade until the start of the playoffs. Eventually, he would make his return to the lineup—but unfortunately the Heat fell victim to an early playoff exit, the result being a four game sweep by the Chicago Bulls .
In contrast to Wades slowly deteriorating health, constant knee, and hamstring injuries (which still hinder him today), other players were quickly emerging. Rookie of the year and league MVP Derrick Rose, scoring Champion Carmelo Anthony was starting to take charge of his Denver Nuggets, and teams from both conferences were starting to build around an individual star. Besides the fact that other players in the league started to overshadow the Heat star, the emergence of the Big Three being added to the mix did not relieve the situation one bit.
Like all sport fans in general, we tend to forget about what a particular player has done for an organization. Pat Riley has brought players in and formed some lineups, which fans would have never thought would happen. As a result, making it hard to select just one player that has shaped this franchise. The Heat have had top talent all throughout their time has a franchise. Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Eddie Jones, and LeBron James all in their prime, but Wade was cut from a different cloth. While staying committed to a franchise and city that has embraced him for the last twelve years, Dwyane Wade has set himself apart from the other Heat players that stood before him.
After the successful 2006 Championship runs—what many refer to as a “performance of the ages”, the Heat took a sudden fall. The franchise managed to finish the 2008 season with a 15-67 record, one of the worst in league history. After the disappointing season, the Heat won the second pick in the upcoming draft, selecting Kansas State double-double machine Michael Beasley. The rookie forward would not live up to expectations, finishing with sub par numbers and numerous legal issues. But with all the surrounding difficulties, and the dismantling of the organizations key components, the Heat’s star maintained his fundamental duty of staying committed to the franchise that drafted him on that June summer night in 2003.
Regardless of what has happened to the Heat’s organization, or Wade’s constant health related issues, his play on the floor has always remained at an efficient level. With LeBron James making his departure from Miami to his hometown of Cleveland, Wade now realizes that there isn’t any added pressure for them to reach certain expectations. The Big Three era in my opinion, had sports fans around the world ultimately forgetting about the effort that Wade has brought to a single organization. Dwyane has collected numerous individual awards and honors throughout his time being an NBA player. When it is all said and done, Wade’s resume will speak for itself. A player that was unheralded coming out of high school, is now in clear position to mark himself in the NBA fraternity of greats. I can live with fans saying that Wade is out of his prime, and to a certain degree we all must come to grips with that. However, to refer to a player as dominate and impactful as Wade was for the game of basketball is total blasphemy. A healthy Wade is a hassle for defenders and opposing competition. In the event that Wade decides to call it a quits; he will remain one of the league’s top talents, and premier superstars in history.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Justin Hill