Dwyane Wade - A Career Retrospective Chapter 2: Shaq Attacks

Alexander Tamargo

The second part of an ongoing series looking back at the career of the Miami Heat superstar.

In the 2004 offseason, Shaquille O'Neal was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat. The trade wasn't that unexpected with the ever-growing feud between Kobe Bryant and Shaq, as well as the departure of Jerry West but nevertheless Shaq's return to Florida had flipped the league on its head. The once-overlooked Heat were now the focal point of the league, the spotlight had shifted, and the new television deals signed. All eyes were on Shaq, but like season's past would soon shift onto another star shooting guard: Dwyane Wade.

While slightly overlooked in his rookie season, Wade really came into his own in his sophomore year. Wade averaged very impressive numbers as rookie, but his stat line soared with the presence of Shaquille O'Neal. Wade played in 77 regular season games that season and averaged 24.1 points, and 6.8 assists and with this improvement it was obvious that "Flash" had been born.

As the season progressed Wade would receive All-Star status and become a reserve player in the 2005 All-Star game. Dwyane Wade's comparisons would debut this year as well, he was often compared to a young Michael Jordan as he slashed to the rim with ease and delivered earth rattling slam dunks. He was also able to play the point guard position as well, making him extremely versatile when the game's final minutes approached.

With this success, it seemed Shaq's spotlight had given birth to a new superstar. As the season would wind down, the Heat would once again deliver post-season domination despite falling to the star studded Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals - thus sparking a new rivalry that would continue throughout the following season.

Nevertheless, Dwyane Wade's numbers in the post-season were phenomenal. The Heat had swept both the Vince Carter-led New Jersey Nets, as well as Gilbert Arenas' Washington Wizards while "Flash" averaged 28.6 points 8 assists and 6 rebounds in both rounds. The Heat seemed unstoppable, but injuries and sickness befell Wade and despite leading 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals and still performing extremely well, a limited Wade with a bad rib injury could not stop the Pistons in Game 7.

In spite of the heartbreaking series loss, a flash of lightning had struck that season in Miami and a very good basketball team was ready to take Larry O'Brien home. The Heat had become something more as made evident by their 59-23 record and the rest of the league would come to witness their realized potential the following season.

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