Dwyane Wade is celebrating a birthday today!
The three-time NBA champion turns 37 years old.
Wade is in his farewell NBA tour. He announced before the beginning of the 2017-2018 season, that this year will be his last.
Once upon a time, Wade was the fifth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft coming out of Marquette.
The speedy rookie guard got the world’s attention in game one of the Heat’s first round playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets in 2004.
With 1.3 seconds remaining and tied at 79 apiece, Wade hit Hornets point guard Baron Davis with an ankle breaker crossover and drove to the basket making a running jumper amid the outstretched arm of Hornets center Jamaal Magloire. The basket gave the Heat a 81-79 victory and Miami would end up winning the series in seven games.
“I knew he was a special player even back then,” Wade’s former Miami Heat teammate, Rafer Alston, told me.
“Even though he was young and still developing even back then, he had that ‘it’ factor.”
“I think we did well that year even without a center,” said Alston. “We were a young team but we had big bodies that year with Udonis Haslem, Brian Grant and Malik Allen. We just couldn’t match up well with Indiana.”
The Heat would end up making a trade for the center they needed; swapping Odom to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal. Two years later, the super team Heat then-coached by Pat Riley and featured Shaq, Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, James Posey would hoist a championship trophy after beating the Dallas Mavericks.
“He kept plugging away and found a good mentor in Shaq,” said Alston of Wade. “From there he just followed the blueprint and never got comfortable.”
LeBron James and Chris Bosh would later arrive to South Beach and win two more rings with Wade.
Wade would have stints with the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers before finding his way back home to Miami in a trade last season.
Wade’s return to the Miami Heat last season was a full circle moment after the future Hall of Famer left M-I-A in 2016 when the Heat refused to pay him what he thought he was worth.
Ironically, Dirk Nowitzki, also a free agent two summers ago was offered a two-year $50 million deal to stay with the Dallas Mavericks and was more than he asked for in free agency.
“I basically told him, look, you tell me the price and it actually started lower,” Mark Cuban told me back in the summer of 2016.
Wade is getting a great farewell tour, though!
“I’m super jealous, because I wanted a farewell tour,” said Wade’s former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal.
“Towards the end of my career, I was dreaming about that. I was dreaming about the gifts I would receive and all that stuff, but it didn’t happen. But I’m happy for him. His legacy is one of the top two guards to ever play in the game. Definitely has a lot of championships and does a lot for Miami, and I’m happy for him and his family.”
This season, his final one, Wade is averaging 13.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists.