There is an old adage in the NBA, and for that matter sports as a whole, that stays, “Father Time is Undefeated.” Regardless of the type of player one was in their prime, eventually one has to retire. The trap that many players fall victim to is that they are so entrenched in basketball that they try to prolong their career in defiance of their body. The love that these individuals have for the game essentially blinds them from the ugly truth that they cannot compete effectively anymore. This challenge is something that many of the great’s superstars have struggled with, whether it was Shaq in Boston, Hakeem Olajuwon in Toronto, or Michal Jordan in Washington. Those final years are hard to watch- as fans are forced to see once great players play uncharacteristically poor basketball. This is why the final season of Dwyane Wade’s basketball career is something that many basketball fans can appreciate.
It is great to see Wade ending his career in the city that drafted him. Wade has been the face of that Miami Heat franchise for his entire career, and it is only fitting that he ends his career with this organization. He also understands his role on the team as a player coming off the bench. Many great superstars would never accept this role, but he understands that this is best for both himself and the team. And the best part about this run is that as a 37-year-old player, he is still playing very well- scoring around 14 points while also grabbing 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. And unlike other farewell seasons, the team itself is still relatively competitive, as the Heat fighting for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. And what makes it even more exciting is that Wade has not been just a spectator this season, but has been a contributing factor in this playoff push. He is consistently rallying his team and making the big plays in close games. This was evident this past week in games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and the Washington Wizards.
In the first game against the Thunder, Wade scored 25 points, along with dishing out 5 assists. While D-Wade did score a lot of points in this game, what really was important in this win was his willingness to pass to his fellow teammates. While wade has been always known for being an elite scorer, he has adjusted his game to be more of a playmaker for his team in the last several seasons. Goran Dragic especially benefited from this style, as he scored 26 points. This game was also incredibly important because the Heat needed this win to hold the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the next game against the Spurs, Wade had decent game scoring 11 points with 3 assists. Yet this game, wade showed that he does not really care about his numbers and was more concerned about giving his team the best chance to win the game. At the end of the third quarter, Wade made a half-court shot that increased the Heat’s lead by 12 points. Many players avoid taking these shots as they negatively affect one stats within the game. And during the 4th quarter when the Heat needed a basket, Wade was able to use a veteran ball fake to put Lamarcus Aldridge in the air which lead to an easy bucket. Then in the final seconds of the game, Wade was able to steal the ball which forced the Spurs to foul- essentially icing the game.
The last game was great for Wade as the Heat faced off against the Washington Wizards. In this game, Wade played well offensively scoring 20 points, with 5 assists; he also grabbed 9 rebounds. This game the Heat needed Wade to deliver in the 4th quarter, and like he has done his entire career, he absolutely dominated. He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter alone and found Kelly Olynyk for a dunk that essentially ended the game.
While these games were all great in showcasing the best of Dwyane Wade’s generational talent, there was another game that the heat played in the past week. This game was against the Milwaukee Bucks, who currently hold the best record in the Eastern Conference. This was an important game because if the Heat do end up making the playoffs, they probably will face the Bucks in the first round.
In this game the Heat lost by a 29-point margin, and while Wade was able to score 12 points, his squad was clearly no match for this Milwaukee team. This also demonstrated that while Wade is still good and can lead a team, he is just no longer the player that can carry a mediocre group of NBA players against the best teams of the best- and that is okay. Because even though everyone knows that the Heat will have very little impact in the playoffs if they make it, criticisms have never stopped Wade and his teammates from playing hard.
There are plenty of nice moments that happen off the court too, like coach Greg Popovich giving Wade shoes along with jerseys of Tony parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli. Yet, unlike other legend tours where a player’s team was not remotely competitive (I.e. Kobe, Garnett, Shaq), Wade and the Heat are at least providing fans with enjoyable basketball. Honestly, this is a great ending for one of the best shooting guards to ever play the game.