Raptor Players Pay Tribute to Miami Heat Superstar Dwyane Wade
“He has a never-say-die attitude, he just went at it every game, gave it his all and I aspire to be like him.”
The final dance is almost complete.
As the NBA’s regular season is quickly coming to an close, it remains unclear as to when the final goodbye will be said for one Dwyane Wade. Whether it is in a few days, or in a few weeks, Dwyane Wade is ready to hang up his sneakers following his 16th season. A Hall of Fame worthy career that began in his days leading Marquette to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, Wade will leave a lasting legacy as one of the greatest two-guards to ever play the game of basketball.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” said Raptors guard Norman Powell. “He has the will to win, he attacks guys, he’s very smart, very heady, he knows the game, he knows the ins and outs of the game.”
Wade, who has spent the majority of his career with the Miami Heat, was able to bring an entire franchise back to relevance, securing its first NBA championship in 2006. While the Heat were at the heights of their powers once the Big-3 of Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh was assembled, it was his incredible performance in his first ever finals appearance that left the entire NBA world on notice, signifying that a young budding superstar was born.
“In his first Finals appearance, he was dominant,” reminisced Raptors sharpshooter, Jodie Meeks. “I was in high school, going into college and he used to be my favourite player. It gave me a lot of inspiration for a 6’4’’-6’5’’ guard to possibly make the NBA one day.”
As an incredible career comes to an end, a quick look at Wade’s resume is simply mind-blowing.
A three-time NBA champion, a 13-time All-Star, a Finals MVP, an All-Star Game MVP, along with eight All-NBA honours and three All-Defensive honours. Dwyane Wade also captured the 2008-09 NBA scoring title when he averaged 30.2 points per game.
“I remember how explosive he was at his size,” commented Raptors’ veteran guard Danny Green. “And throughout the years, just watching him grow, adapt, and adjust and how he became a playmaker, shooter, mid-range guy, draw fouls. We had some tough battles against him, especially in the finals. 2013 was a tough one, they had a really good squad. 2014 as well, you know, we won that year.”
In Green’s mind, Wade was simply unguardable at times and when he went off, as an opponent, you just have to hope and pray that you can keep up.
“He can get hot at any moment,” Green said. “He makes big shots, he’s a clutch player regardless of how he played in the previous three quarters. He makes certain plays on the offensive end and the defensive end, you cannot really block his shot, you just hope he misses.”
After 13 years in Miami, Wade went back to his hometown of Chicago, but it didn’t take him long to return to where his NBA journey began back in South Beach.
“It’s special, right?” said point guard Fred VanVleet. “You grow up watching these guys play and then you get in a game with them and just get to compete against them. It’s a special moment, it’s something I cherish and as a competitor, you always look forward to those types of situations.”
“The passion that he plays with, the skill, just the slashing, the aggressiveness and the athleticism. Playing on both sides of the ball, getting you steals, getting you blocks, gets you buckets. He does it all as a guard and he paved the way for a lot of the guards you see today,” VanVleet added.
One of the best to ever step onto a basketball court, Wade is widely recognized as one of the better people in the game as well.
“You could just tell with his energy the kind of person he is,” explains Green. “He seems like a great guy, and he and his family are great people. I’m sure he will have a very good life off the court as he did on the court.”
For Meeks, the impact he had on the game is only strengthened by the person he is away from the bright lights of the AmericanAirlines Arena.
“Just see the great things he does off the court,” said Meeks. “To be the great person that he is. He’s a stand up guy. It’s good to see an African-American man growing up in inter city Chicago and make a lot with his life and career.”
For a younger shooting guard like Powell, the UCLA alum discussed how big of an aspiration Wade truly has been.
“He really helped me fall in love with the game,” says Powell. “Just how he plays, how hard he plays and I really wanted to be like him growing up. I grew up watching him, I wanted to be like him and have a chance to play against him. When I had a chance to do it, it was amazing, especially in the playoffs. Coach Casey subbed me in to guard him and it was my rookie year so I was shook a little bit because it’s D-Wade, but it’s been a lot of fun to go against him and see everything he’s done for the game.”
While Wade is unsure as to what his future holds after he retires, he said that he will definitely require therapy to cope with the process. As one door closes, another door will open for one of the best to ever do it.
“It was a lot of fun. Just to be out there and competing against him,” shabby veteran Marc Gasol commented on his times playing against Wade. “He knows the game so well, he prepares his mind and body. [He’s] just a great basketball mind who can impact the game on both ends. Just a great player.”
But all things come to an end and soon enough, Wade will hear his named called by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
“He doesn’t want to be a guy who’s limping out the door, he’s walking out with his head held high. He’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do.”