On April 9th, Dwyane Wade played the final NBA game of his career. The Miami Heat had already been eliminated from playoff contention, and their performance as a group that night reflected that. Despite head coach Eric Spolstra's best efforts, they lost the game by 19 points, with the Brooklyn Nets heading into the playoffs with a 113-94 win.
However, not a single Heat fan, player, or executive cared a bit because this night was about making sure Wade got the goodbye he deserved. Wade's final season, dubbed #OneLastDance, had finally come to its dreaded finale and everybody wanted to soak at the moment.
Wade has had plenty of "dancing" experience throughout his career. Some of that dancing was positive, like the line dancing he performed as part of the "Big 3" alongside Chris Bosh and LeBron James. With some practice, it became one of the most well-timed and effective "dances" in NBA history. He had some negative "dance" experiences as well, like during the dark times between his first championship with Shaquille O'Neal and the "Big 3" era. There it felt like he was dancing at an all-time level, just by himself, kind of like Kevin Bacon in a deserted warehouse.
A few months after that legendary night, the man is known as "Flash" has left the league behind and mostly been out of the national media's eye, but he hasn't left his team behind. By virtue of giving ill-advised contracts to mediocre players, many believed the Heat would be a mere spectator of this year's free agency period, yet Wade and the veteran Heat executives Pat Reily and Andy Elisburg had other plans in mind. In Wade's final home game against the Philadelphia 76ers, he swapped jerseys with the Sixers star wing, Jimmy Butler, and has been trying to recruit Jimmy Buckets to join the Heat ever since.
Apparently, it worked, and after Jimmy had been persuaded the Heat needed to clear some cap space in order to bring the 4-time All-Star to South Beach. An initial proposal of a three-team trade that would have included the Dallas Mavericks fell through for unknown reasons. Mavs owner Mark Cuban, insists the Heat offered him Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr., a trade he supposedly rejected, but that trade would not have been able to go through anyway because of the hard cap, so maybe Mark is still petty and sticking to his Heat hatred. The Heat eventually resorted to a four-team trade that included also the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail-Blazers, and just like that Jimmy was the newest member of the Miami Heat.
In the complicated 4-team trade the Heat received Jimmy Butler (Via Phi) and Meyers Leonard (Via Por) and gave up Hassan Whiteside (to Por), Josh Richardson (to Phi), and a heavily protected first-round pick to the Clippers. In a recent interview, Pat Riley claimed he was not seeking for ordinary "Whales", but "Orcas," and the organization believes Jimmy is that kind of franchise-altering "Orca." Without the help of their all-time best player and a Top 3 shooting guard in NBA history, the orca would not have made it to southern Florida. Today we take a trip down memory lane, an "It’s A Wonderful Life" scenario for Dwyane if you will, and look back at his life through the lens of a Hollywood camera.
Setting The Scene
Ever since becoming the star of the Golden Eagles" at Marquette, Dwyane Wade had a knack for attracting the cameras. Before he even set foot on an NBA court, Flash was bombarded with, well, lots of literal flashes, especially on the draft day since he was the only one who did not look like he borrowed his dad's old high school prom suit. During his long and storied career, he has developed the knack for the spotlight, like a professional movie star. Could it be that Wade has been the star of his own movie this entire time?
That’s it, we're at the end of the road. Down by a point with a few seconds left on the clock, the situation every kid envisions as he dreams of making it to the NBA. He knows the burden is completely on his shoulders, the defenders on the other team would not even trouble their eyes by looking at someone else. One of them attempts a nasty, illegal dive to his feet, but failed, and somehow he used the defender to give him an extra boost on his jump. During his jump, two of the other defenders latched on to him vigorously, like a linebacker trying to complete a tackle. Even that did not stop him, the slam dunk rocked the rim as the buzzer sounded, the crowd released the air from their lungs after the previous gasp. GAME.OVER.
Wade tumbled upon a similar situation in his rookie year. Over 21,000 people on the edge of their seats, screaming and shouting, decibel levels rising to an ultrasonic boom. Although, Wade likely did not hear of that, as his impeccable levels of focus likely left him in a silent arena with a singular goal in front of him. Wade received an inbound pass with just 10 seconds to go, but for him, it all felt like the game was in slow motion. In a precise and delicate manner, he shook off his defender, got open by a sliver of space and drained a floater. At the exact moment the ball passed through the hoop, the vacuum in Wade's ears released like a champagne cork popping out of a bottle. This epic shot was followed by an equally epic line from the Heat color analyst, Tony Fiorentino, "(Stan) Van Gundy gave it to the rookie, and he delivered!"
Fiorentino has been with the Heat organization since it entered the association in 1988. While he started as an assistant coach to Ron Rothstein back in 1988, in 2004, Wade's rookie year, Fiorentino has entered a rookie year of his own: as a color analyst alongside Eric Reid. Usually, color analysts do not get to call plays like that, however, Eric let his pal get "a big shot" of his own, and Tony took full advantage. Tony and Eric had the pleasure of calling Wade's games throughout his career, and last year Tony retired from broadcasting and let John Crotty replace him alongside his friend Eric. Still, no one can forget that famous call from the first NBA playoff game of Wade's career and his game-winning shot against the Hornets.
After a hard-fought battle in the hotel room, his assistant escaped to the elevator. He took the sex toy that was laid on the bedside and decided to chase after his assistant with it, threatening to use it as a weapon. After a very awkward visit to the elevator, while innocent bystanders were looking to avoid any contact with the combatants, they arrived at the hotel lobby and eventually the jam-packed hotel lounge. Every single eye in the room was glued to the two wrestling until security bounced back from the initial shock and arrested both of the nude men.
The director/star of the film was trying his hardest to stretch and inspect boundaries. Law enforcement paid him no less than 73 visits, and every single time he had to explain that he is actually producing a movie.
Flash is no stranger to stretching himself to new heights, he was already forced to do that in sophomore year in the league. After the acquisition of superstar big man Shaquille O'Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers, the Heat immediately turned to a serious championship contender. Miami toppled the Eastern Conference while Wade was selected to play in his first of many All-Star games.
In the playoffs, the Heat took care of business against the lowly Nets in the first round, sweeping them easily. The following series against the Wizards was no different, four simple games that helped Dwyane pad his stats sheet. In that series, he averaged 31 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds per game. In the next round, the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat faced their toughest challenge yet: the reigning champions from the Motor City, the Detroit Pistons. In-Game 2 and Game 3, Wade was on fire, scoring 36 and 42 points, respectively while suffering from sinusitis, the flu, and a minor ligament tear in his knee. He kept fighting even when the injuries piled on some more, tendon tears around his ribcage in Game 5 really limited him for the rest of the series, but the Heat still managed to get the series to a Game 7. The Pistons eventually won in the final game and went on to the Finals, but the future looked very bright down in South Beach.
The favorite flattened him to the floor in a quick fashion. A brief glance towards his coach in the stands calmed him slightly, but his opponent grounded him again, this time he used his legs to drop him straight on his nose, causing a trickle of blood to start flowing out of it.
That poked his opponent's inner beast and he returned to the ring like he was shot out of a cannon, immediately landing a swift and accurate kick right to his face, flashing a very smug look on his face. The dominance of the favorite continued right up until the end, when the underdog did the impossible and landed the knockout punch, or should I say knockout crane kick that was performed to perfection. A punctuation point at the end of an incredible comeback.
During the 2006 NBA Finals, Wade was beaten down, knocked out, flat lined and bleeding constantly. The Heat were down 2-0 in the series against the Mavericks, looking baffled in both of the first two games. Wade responded with an all-time performance in Game 3 when he grabbed a career high 13 boards and scored 42 points, 15 of them in the crucial final period.
The double-digit point comeback ignited the Heat, who went on the win the next three games in the series, bringing the Larry O'Brian trophy down to Florida for the first time ever. The final game in the series gave fans an very iconic image: Flash inhaling the last rebound and launching the ball into the stands, while the players on the bench rising up, raising their fists to the sky in perfect timing like synchronized swimmers. Wade deservedly won the Finals MVP, and to this day, this individual series from Wade is listed amongst some of the historical greats.
Close up on Jack Woltz's magnificent castle at dusk. The camera zooming into his bedroom, the flute heard in the background surges and upturns. Woltz wakes up, looks at his hand and notices its covered in dry blood. He rises, terror-stricken, the music becomes almost deafening, the covers of dripping with blood. At the edge of the bed it was: the severed horse head. Woltz screams in disbelief, totally panicking. An abrupt cutaway to the family home, the camera focuses on the head of the family, smiling a devilish smile like only he could. "The connection between a godson and his godfather is very strong, especially with us Catholics," Jack Woltz was told, but he did not listen, so he paid the price.
Dwyane has seen his fair share of criminal activity in Chicago, his hometown. By 6 years old he already dealt with trash cans filled with rotten dead bodies and seen his mother inject drugs straight to her veins with her pals in the shared living room. At the mere age of 8 he left his mother to go live with his father, and at the age of 10 he had to speak with his mom through a jail phone in the visitation center. Not a day goes by without Wade looking back at his horrid past in one of the major crime ridden cities in the country.
In March of 2009, Wade got a shot to throw a punch back and get his revenge in a game against his childhood team: the Chicago Bulls. The game was tied, 127 all, in the second overtime. The Bulls actually had possession and a chance to win the game and crush the spirit of all of the fans inside the American Airlines arena. Jon Salmons got an inbound pass, wasted just enough time for Tony Fiorentino to murmur "This is not a good matchup for the Heat," and at the exact moment Coach T completed his sentence, Wade snatched the ball. Eric took over the broadcasting, "Wade with the steal, two second, shoots… yes! He did it! He did it!" The camera gave a brief look at Bulls' Brad Miller, who was cursing on the bench, and quickly returned to the movie star that jumped up on the scorer's tables and signaled: This is my house now.
He let him score some easy points early, an ancient Bulgarian tactic called "hosszu gorcs" made to make your opponent complacent and smug. "Fight back!" squealed his son from the stands. "Not yet" he responded. After flustering the fans watching, the head announcer noticed his tactic. "The champion looks exhausted, he's running on fumes!" After many appeals from his son, he finally started to fight back. The crowd was chanting his name now as he landed a dizzying series of punches and knocked his opponent down.
The bribed judges gave the nod to the champion, but all who were at the venue know who the real winner was. David defeated Goliath that night. And no one can tell me otherwise.
Even though he played with YMCA kids and a bag of peanuts, 2009 Dwyane wade was the best basketball player on earth. However, he only came in third in that years MVP race, behind Kobe Bryant and the eventual winner LeBron James. That trophy belongs in Wade's cabinet, he was the literal Most Valuable Player. One of many mistakes MVP voters have committed over the years.
The veteran detective opened the box warily and gasped at the sight of its contents. Intense, sharp violin music filled the ears. "Stay back, what ever you do stay back!" he told his the officers in the helicopter above. "He has the upper hand."
Quick cut to the young detective who has the perp in his custody. The criminal is blabbering about he much he appreciates the detective and the life he built for himself. The criminal was surprised how easily he was able to access sensitive information from the police precinct, how all he had to do forge some papers and claim you work for the press. "I tried to play the husband" he said. "Unfortunately I failed, however I did take a souvenir: your wife's pretty head."
The detective was shook to his core. "What's in the box" he asked compulsively. He did not get an answer, but the silence conveyed all the information he needed. "If you shoot him, he wins," his partner warned. The young detective tried to control himself, but he could not. The criminal got his head blown off. Evil takes this round.
For many years, Wade was the NBA's sweetheart, until LeBron James and Chris Bosh came down to South Beach in 2010 to create the most hated team in the league. Yes, 2011 was a colossal failure with the Heat losing to the Mavericks in The Finals, but Miami turned it around eventually, winning 2 championships and reaching The Finals four times during the "Big 3" era. Wade's so-called "sins" payed off. He got his way through psychological warfare, and with a wide arsenal of tools. In 2012 LeBron got his first championship, Wade got his second, but it was his first as a second fiddle.
Everyone knows on the highway you must to take extra precautions. One small error can cause multiple casualties. When you can't slow down, even for a second, or your hands will be stained in blood of the innocent, it creates major problems. A bridge under construction took the major problem from before and made it look like child's play. The bus accelerated and skimmed across the bridge, somehow, to the shock of many. It was milliseconds away from disaster, but flirting with the danger zone was nothing new to them on that day.
Wade's third and final championship came after one of the most enjoyable Finals series in the history of the league, jam-packed with so many iconic moments. Tony Parker's buzzer beater in Game 1 to take home court advantage, Mike Miller's three pointer with his shoe off, and of course, the biggest shot in league history by Ray Allen in Game 6. Wade didn't play up to his normal standards in that series, but like the people on the bus, there is not a shred of doubt he was an integral piece of that 'chip. Sometimes, it is better to control your ego instead of the ball.
He normally does not allow anyone to get under his skin, yet this time it was different. It was something about him he could not put his finger on. Perhaps it was his crazy antics, or his hand motions, his body language or maybe it was just his purple suit. Do not let the eccentric outfit fool you, he was the most brilliant criminal he'd ever faced. That scumbag made him lose his mind, lock the door to the interrogations room with a dusty chair and beat the soul out of the criminal.
He had to stop to go and save civilians, leaving the villain alone in the room, chuckling to himself.
Throughout his career Dwyane Wade had developed immunity to his haters and hecklers. However, in 2016, when "purple shirt guy" pestered him during the Hornets Vs. Heat series, Wade decided to shut him up. Flash had really outdone himself in that series, yet he gave purple shirt man exactly what he wished for: attention. It was an occasion that prove even Wade accumulates rust, but he knows who to channel it to positive outcomes.
He observed his opponent is fiercely protecting his right side, and wisely he decided to attack exactly there. That final push wasn't enough to seal the victory, but he almost knocked out the reigning world champion and dragged him to a 15th round. He barely had enough energy to call the name of his lover. He knew it was over, it's alright, his body just gave out, mother nature does that to the best of them.
Sure, the Heat didn't make the playoffs this year, but Wade would take a magical moment like the crazy game winner against the Golden State Warriors. A play with no logic but a deserved one at the same time. The city's football team got its magical moment this year with the "MiaMiracle", so it's only fair the basketball team, the organization that brought the most pride to Miami sports this millennium, gets a moment like this, from a player like this.
Simply, a perfect ending.