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Despite Miami’s uneven play, Wade’s legacy remains unmatched

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Even with Miami struggling, Dwyane Wade still manages to marvel even in the final year of his basketball career.

NBA: Miami Heat at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve taken Dwyane Wade for granted.

For 15.5 seasons I’ve watched Dwyane Wade do amazing things on the basketball court. In his early years, everything he did was spectacular. Watching Wade dominate the 2006 NBA Finals remains one of my most treasured basketball memories. But as his career progressed, his effortless excellence became expected. He was a Heat lifer, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The truth is, despite Dwyane Wade being my favorite player ever, I didn’t realize what Dwyane Wade was until he took off his Heat jersey and joined Chicago.

Wade’s absence was immediately felt in Miami. For a second, as the Heat started the season 11-30, he left a LeBron James-sized hole. It was so strange watching Heat games and not seeing number 3 on the court. So last season, I know I wasn’t alone when I jumped out of my chair upon seeing the Woj Bomb:

Wade’s return was crucial to Miami’s late-season run, and he single-handedly won Miami big games. He did it again in the playoffs, and he’s doing it again this season (Tuesday’s win against Portland is a testament to that).

Dwyane Wade won’t jump out of the gym anymore, he’ll rarely split defenders for huge slams, or circus shot theatrics, but my god is he still impressive.

Wade excels in the midrange, and his court vision is second to none. It’s simple when he’s on the court he makes his team better. His veteran presence is calming in tight situations, and his closing ability is still as sharp as ever. Though I’m sure he could do this for a few more seasons, Wade is leaving a legacy behind. Wade’s mentorship has been invaluable to the Heat’s young core. Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and even Bam Adebayo all show traces of Wade’s teachings.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade celebrates with Josh Richardson
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat are in the final stretch of the season, and playoffs are uncertain. They haven’t been consistent and it has put them in an awkward position. Miami has been tough to watch at times, but Dwyane Wade has made even the worst losses digestible. As always he’ll fight and rally the troops until the final whistle.

Like so many, I can speak to how Dwyane Wade has helped me love the game of basketball. His retirement is something that always seemed so distant. So with the season nearing its end, it’s almost hard to accept. I took Wade for granted once before, but it won’t happen again.

Regardless of how Miami’s season ends, it’s been a privilege to experience #OneLastDance.