There’s been a lot of talk about how Miami Heat fans should receive Dwyane Wade in his first game back in Miami since choosing to join the Chicago Bulls this summer — for more money.
I will understand where the franchise is coming from when they inevitably play some sort of appreciation video on the big screen. I will understand when many fans choose to give him a standing ovation during pregame introductions.
Dwyane Wade is the best athlete in Miami sports history. I’m discounting LeBron because his reign lasted just four years. Without Wade, Miami’s three championships likely don’t exist. He was a marvel to watch and one of the NBA’s 10 to 15 best players of all time.
But once the ball gets tossed into the air sometime around 8:10 p.m. at half court of the American Airlines Arena hardwood, the reality is Dwyane Wade will have “Bulls” stitching slapped on his chest and as one of the opposing team’s best players, he’ll be spearheading an attack with the goal of kicking our team’s ass.
It’s okay to groan when his name gets gurgled out by the PA announcer after buckets. It’s okay to boo his every touch. It’s nothing personal, it’s sports, and you can appreciate Wade’s incredible contributions to Heat basketball while continuing to root for your team first. Sorry but you can’t root for both your squad and the opposing team’s leader when they share the same court. It’s both sacrilegious and soft.
Should Heat fans treat Wade like any other opponent and boo after the opening tip (after a pregame standing O) ?
— Slice Miami (@SliceMiami) November 10, 2016
This is what makes sports fun — the emotional rivalries. It’s why the Heat-Celtics games during the Big Three Era were so much fun. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were superstar players, experts at their craft, but we loathed them.
Not only were they dirty sourpuss losers from Boston but they were the best players suiting up for one of the Heat’s biggest and most challenging rivals. If Kevin Garnett suffered a broken nose by a Heat player circa 2010-13, it’d engender smiles in my house.
It’s sports, where bitterness is an acceptable emotion.
Don’t forget the Heat didn’t trade Wade or push for his ouster. They chose not to overpay a 34-year-old ball-dominant alpha with a bad shoulder and terrible knees who has been one of the game’s historically putrid three-point shooters (don’t this this recent surge will endure). He left for more money in what can be rationally interpreted as an ego-driven cash grab.
And for all the great memories Wade has provided us during his epic 13-season stint as a member of the Heat, he’s a Chicago Bull now and should be treated appropriately. As uncomfortable and strange as it feels he is the enemy now.
As Dwyane said about Pat a couple days ago, “if you’re not with him, you’re against him.” The same goes for us fans. It’s perfectly acceptable to boo No. 3 tonight.