During halftime of the Miami Heats 124-105 victory over Cleveland, the Heat honored the greatest player in the history of their franchise, Dwyane Wade. His no. 3 jersey now hangs in immortality in the rafters of American Airlines Arena.
Addressing the Miami faithful at halftime, Wade said “I hope I inspired you. Thank you for making me a part of your legacy. Please know you’re a huge part of mine.”
In honor of this historic moment for Wade and the city of Miami here is a look back at some of the Flash’s greatest and most iconic moments.
Controversy and Triumph in the 2006 Finals
The 2006 NBA finals have sadly been completely overshadowed by some awful officiating down the stretch that tarnished the image of what was an incredible series for Wade.
After being down 0-2 in the series to the Dallas Mavericks, Wade completely took over (albeit with a bit of help from the refs on the side). He scored over 35 points in each of the remaining four games, all Miami victories en route to Wade’s and Miami’s first NBA title. Wade won his first and only NBA Finals MVP while averaging almost 35-8-4 a night. No matter how bad the officiating was, Wade’s herculean effort can’t be ignored.
Another thing about this series that people tend to forget is that Wades’ co-star at the time, Shaquille O’Neal, was awful and almost a nonfactor. He scored just 13 points per game and shot a historically bad 14 for 48 from the free-throw line, which is less than 30 percent!
Wades Takeover vs. Chicago
Dwyane Wade’s 2008-2009 season is one of the greatest to not receive an MVP award. In fact, he finished in third in MVP voting, behind LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But it is without question that Wade absolutely dominated on an individual level, granting us possibly the best impression of Michael Jordan since his retirement. Wade led the league in scoring at 30.2 points per game while averaging career highs in assists, steals and blocks. He also was an elite defender that year, making Second Team All-Defense.
The point is, Wade was great in 08-09 and no moment proved that more than one of the greatest individual performances of the 2000s. In a double-overtime thriller vs Chicago Wade went absolutely ballistic.
He scored 48 points on just 21 shots, including the game-tying three-pointer with just 11.5 seconds left in regulation to send it to OT. Then in double overtime, Wade had what many consider his most iconic moment. John Salmons of Chicago has a chance at the final shot as the clock wound down in double overtime. As Salmons drove to the basket Wade stole the ball, ran down the court and put up a beautiful floating three-pointer that banked in as time expired.
Wade famously jumped on the scorer’s table after the play, proclaiming American Airlines Arena as ‘his house’. A title that nobody can dispute.
Wade Ending Anderson Varejao’s Career
A personal favorite of mine, Wade’s dunk on Cleveland center Anderson Varejao has to be one of the most ruthless acts ever committed on an NBA court.
The previous year Wade lost the MVP award to LeBron and he went into Miami’s first matchup with LeBron and Cleveland looking to make a statement. And what a statement it was.
With just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter Wade took off down the court after LeBron was rejected at the rim, euro-stepped past one man and then dunked so furiously on 6-foot-10 Varejao that nobody would have been surprised if Varejao just decided to call it a career right there and then.
No amount of description can do this play justice, so here is a highlight of the play.
One Last Buzzer Beater
As the 2010s came to an end, sadly so too came the end of Dwyane Wade’s career. During the summer of 2018, he announced that the 2018-2019 season would be his last. During this season Dwyane Wade continued to play some great basketball, averaging 15 points per game as a 37-year-old is no easy feat, but it was clear that he had lost a step compared to his older days.
Almost a year ago on February 27, 2019, Miami played the defending champion Golden State Warriors at home. It was a close back and forth affair and Wade was playing some of his best basketball all season. He had 22 points and seven rebounds going into the closing seconds.
With three seconds remaining in the game and Miami down by two, Wade had the ball in his hands and a chance to win the game. His first three-point attempt was blocked, but with a stroke of good luck, it bounced right back to him. With less than a second remaining Wade heaved up a one-footed prayer that seemed to hang in the air forever.
The shot finally banked in, the arena erupted, and Wade ran right to the scorer’s table, a fitting end to the career of one of the 21st century’s greatest players.
Thank you D-Wade, basketball wouldn’t be the same without you.