Dwyane Wade signing with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, first reported by ESPN media god Adrian Wojnarowski, has to have engendered an odd feeling for Miami Heat fans.
Some don’t know how to feel, while others are irate at Wade or even Pat Riley. Meanwhile, some are shrugging their shoulders. While I won’t tell you how to feel, consider me in the latter. In fact, I can’t fathom why this move has stirred up such anger in some fans.
In fact, the Miami Heat as an organization isn’t shedding a tear or ounce of anger over the decision and that should tell you something.
It comes down to one simple fact: This isn’t the same Dwyane Wade you fell for in the early 2000s. This isn’t the same guy who routinely carved through defenses with the precision of Jiro Ono knifing through a fat filet of tuna. The player who, unlike many other perceived superstars (lookin’ at you, Kobe), was always willing to sacrifice — in terms of both role and finances — for the sake of contending.
Superstar athletes, even of the freakishly-talented hall-of-fame variety like Dwyane, do not age like fine wines. They crumble and I’m sorry but I don’t want a courtside side to observe the decomposition.
While Dwyane may still have among the sharpest basketball minds in the game today — his hoops I.Q. has always been off the charts — his body is simply no longer allowing him to consistently generate the type of production that made him one of the league’s most feared two-way players in his prime. And it’s only going to get worse.
What boggles my mind is the fact so many fans want Wade back just for the sake of having him back, to have him play his last years in Miami for the sake of having him play his last years in Miami.
Did we forget how Dan Marino went out? Maybe you enjoyed the greatest thrower the football world has ever seen going out as a Dolphin but I would have preferred not to witness Marino’s last game be a 62-7 thumping. I would have MUCH rather preferred his two-interception shell-like performance come as a member of the New York Jets. It wouldn’t have tainted his Dolphins legacy.
Wade is coming off a season in which he tallied the lowest True Shooting Percentage (measuring overall shooting efficiency, from three-pointers to free throws) of his career. His defense has become depressing. About half of his shots are coming from 10 feet or further, per Basketball Reference, and his inability to hit those long jumpers at an efficient rate shackles an entire offense. This is especially the case when the league’s most lethal offenses rarely attempt those types of shots.
Wadee showed flashes last year, sure, and he’ll probably churn out a few more vintage Wade highlights next season, but they’ll come less and less frequently from here on out. Why desire to witness this man step into full-blown basketball senility? Are you out of your mind?
If this player wasn’t named Dwyane Wade you wouldn’t want him anywhere near a team that finished 30-11.
Wade’s move to Cleveland was a blessing in disguise for the Heat and its fans as the franchise has set out on an entirely different path. He could absolutely still help Miami some basketball wise with some massive changes to his style but the fit here would be far from seamless and it’d require shelving the much-needed development of its youthful core.
We need to see if Dion Waiters’ second half of last season was a fluke. We need to continue to check out what toothless Tyler Johnson is capable of. They’re both just 25, critical moments for their development. Justise Winslow is 21 and like Wade, has proven to be an inefficient three-point shooter. Finding minutes for both would be a challenge considering playing both together, in addition to Hassan Whiteside, is a spacing mess offensively. Adding a Type-A Hall of Famer like Wade to the mix would create this subconscious need to defer to the all-time great even if it’s not what’s best for the offense.
What Dwyane Wade accomplished as a member of the Miami Heat will never go away. It’s been written in permanent marker on a scroll locked up in an impact glass trophy case sitting inside a maximum-security bunker that nobody knows the location to. Good luck getting in!
Nobody’s going to remember his brief stints in Chicago and Cleveland. Do we remember Jason Taylor as a New York Jet? Do we remember Alonzo Mourning as a New Jersey Net? Hell no!
Even if Wade somehow goes on to win a title in Cleveland with LeBron — so HIGHLY unlikely — that doesn’t change the fact that elite Wade suited up for one team and one team only: the Miami Heat.
Looking at Dwyane Wade in an ugly Cleveland Cavaliers jersey next season may sting your soul, but just remember his Miami Heat legacy will never be tainted or overshadowed. Thirty years from now when we look back on his glorious career, prime Wade will always be remembered wearing red and black.