From a fan's perspective, we remember it like it was yesterday. Mike Inglis shouted, "And the Miami Heat are champions of the basketball world!" Yes, it was when the Heat won their first NBA title in 2006 behind heroic efforts from NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade.
The Miami Heat fell behind 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in that series, but then reeled off 4 straight wins to clinch the title. A roster comprised of Shaquille O'Neal, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, James Posey, Udonis Haslem and Gary Payton. But it was the third year guard who stole the show.
You see, the 24 year-old Wade averaged 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.7 SPG. He dominated the end of the series, and many say single handed beat Dallas, although that's not true. Probably what irked most Dallas supporters is that Wade shot 97 free throws in those 6 games.
All this led to Dallas Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, to pretty much hating Dwyane Wade.
As far as Wade is concerned, there was a time when Cuban thought the Miami guard was nothing more than a self-promoting prima donna, albeit a very talented one. That's changed, he said (via Dallas News).
"Not anymore," Cuban said when asked if he dislikes Wade.
"At the beginning, I did because I think he thought he was entitled to everything that happened in that (2006) series. But it's been eight years. I mean, I take a little bit of joy in games where he doesn't go to the free throw line. But I like D-Wade now. He's a guy who does a lot of good things off the court and I have to respect that."
Cuban has been known for being the owner who wears a t-shirt, and sits behind the team and yells at the referees. It's much different look than any other owner in the league, and he has faced criticism from it, fair or not. So he knows what it's like for people to not like him.
"But if you'd have asked me eight years ago, it would have been a different answer. There was a time I did a commercial and he was there. He walked out of the room so I wouldn't see him. I walked out a different door so I wouldn't have to talk to him."
Time has changed Cuban's opinions of Wade. And hopefully anyone else who had doubts about Wade's character, maybe they should also consider how Cuban has changed his tune concerning the Heat's star.
"I give him credit off the court," Cuban said. "He's gone from flash to being a good representative of the NBA. I respect that. He seems to be more about family and community. He went through some off-the-court hardships, I guess. But yeah, I have a lot of respect for him now. I think he and LeBron helped each other grow up. I don't hold a lot of animosity at all."
And Wade has certainly done so. Many of his contributions to the community are even still unnoticed. And what probably show Wade's character more than anything...he stayed.
And to Miami, that means everything.
The Heat beat the Mavericks on Sunday night behind a strong game from Wade. And Wade, so far this season, has been a solid contributor for the Heat and has stepped up his leadership role alongside Chris Bosh. Miami is 5-2 on the season.
What do you think of Mark Cuban's comments?