Miami Heat: For many, Dwyane Wade’s final season goes beyond basketball

Miami Heat Dwyane Wade (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Miami Heat Dwyane Wade (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

For many Miami Heat fans, saying goodbye to Dwyane Wade will be harder than it seems. And it begins tonight

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Dwyane Wade, it was the same moment I decided to be a Miami Heat fan.

It was May 10, 2004. I was 14 years old.

Even though there were a number of Wade highlights in the months prior to that dunk over Jermaine O’Neal in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, that’s the one that did it for me. I’ve been a loyal Wade fan since, even with the ups and downs of him leaving Miami for Chicago (and then to Cleveland, don’t remind me), only to eventually find his way back.

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And, now, as he prepares for his final opening night game, I can’t help but get emotional.

I remember sitting on my couch, still rehabbing my torn up knee when Wade put on a historic performance in the 2006 NBA Finals. I remember the day after when sports talk radio was debating whether Wade was better than LeBron James.

Say that out loud. Again. It was a conversation that was actually happening. Then again, how could you blame them, Wade did average 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists at 24 years old en route to his first NBA Finals win and MVP.

I remember his body beginning to breakdown the very next season, starting with his shoulder nearly being torn apart. Then, the knee issues.

I remember many pundits declaring Wade being done because of the reckless style of basketball that he plays.

I also remember him being the best player on the 2008 USA Olympic Redemption team. That’s when I knew he was back.

Then, had that amazing 2008-09 season, in which he should’ve won the NBA MVP. I’ll continue to proclaim that on my way to my grave. I remember him dragging a team of no names to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

I also remember him saying that he would no longer get bounced in the first-round of the playoffs again, after that.

I remember Wade going on SportsCenter to announce, along with Chris Bosh, that he was going to re-sign in Miami in 2010. I remember The Decision, where LeBron changed it all. Wade did it. He successfully recruited the best player in the world and Bosh to play in Miami.

The next four years were fun. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Four NBA Finals appearances and two more NBA championships.

At the same time, during that run, it was clear that Wade was beginning to wear down. Despite all the winning, it was somewhat sad to see how Wade’s knees were breaking down. But, as they say, Father Time is undefeated.

I remember getting to watch Wade for the first time in my life live, against the Phoenix Suns during the 2015-16 NBA season. He led a comeback late in the game to seal the victory. Typical Wade.

I remember the night that Wade signed with the Chicago Bulls in 2016. That hurt.

The day he was traded back to the Heat (last season), everything was right again. It was just the way it was supposed to be. Wade was back in Miami. Just in time to close his career.

Now, it’s just about over. Wade is about to take the floor for his final opening night game of his career. One last dance.

Some will say it’s just basketball. Not for me. For the last 14 years of my life, it was much more than that. It was my escape. Wade literally brought me happiness in times when I needed it most. And now, the end is here. It hurts. I feel like part of my life is coming to an end.

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I’m going to enjoy every last ounce of Dwyane Wade that I’m going to get this season, whether he plays 82 games or 52. Because one day this final season is going to be another memory. And I’m not sure if I’m quite ready for that yet.