Thank you, Dwyane Wade.
Thank you for the 13 years of unforgettable and unimaginable memories. Just when we thought it couldn't possibly get any better, it always did. Many teams in many towns will win championships in the future — maybe even ours — but nothing will ever top the ride you took us on. We wish we never had to wake up from the sports dreams you brought to life.
Thank you for making a kid in Miami excited to pick up a basketball. When the Heat drafted you out of Marquette in 2003, this was a town still coming to grips that another star, playing another sport, was gone. Basketball had only hurt us before you arrived, and all Heat fans really knew was heartbreak. For the past 13 years, you changed all of that. You made us winners again. You always made us feel like the luckiest fans in the world.
There is no price we can put on the joy you brought to our families and our city; it's priceless. We are forever indebted to you. All we can do is thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You're not a sports hero; you're a hero, plain and simple.
Thank you for ruining the way we spell "Dwayne" for the rest of our lives. It's cool — we forgive you.
Thank you for changing the way we look at our pots and pans forever. On numerous occasions, you've motivated strangers to hug and kiss on the streets of Miami. Hell, you're probably partially responsible for some marriages and kids. You've brought more people in Miami together than any app ever could. You made a building next to Bayside into our sports church.
Thank you, Dwyane Wade, for showing us and the rest of the world what a real father looks like, regardless of the circumstances. What makes us admire you so much is the fact that you're perfectly imperfect, just like us. Miami is an imperfect place. Your strength and ability to see things through choppy waters into better times should be a lessen to everyone, basketball fan or otherwise.
Thank you for your loyalty, Dwyane Wade. There were many times before this week that you could have chosen, or demanded, an easier path. You never did that. Not only did you never do that, but also you sold Miami as a place others could come to succeed at a time when it couldn't have seemed farther-fetched. You made Miami the epicenter of the sports world for the better part of a decade. You've made "Miami" come out of more mouths than maybe anyone, ever.
Thank you, Dwyane Wade, for giving even the most down-on-his-luck Heat fan a reason to be happy for a few hours on his worst days. Sports is meant to be an escape for fans. You go to work so we can forget our work. The worst Heat game was always better than no Heat game. You've been the star of our favorite TV show for 13 seasons. There is no replacing your contribution to our lives.
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Thank you for making a Miami Heat hat or jersey a symbol of pride. The logo doesn't even say "Miami," but when people see that flaming basketball swishing through that hoop, they know exactly what time it is. A Heat bumper sticker on the car in front of us in traffic makes us give the person a break (a split-second break — it's still Miami). You made humming "Seven Nation Army" a secret handshake. You made us feel connected to one another.
Thank you, Dwyane Wade, for everything you have ever done for the city of Miami, the Miami Heat, and Miami Heat fans. Thank you for the tears, happy and sad. Thank you for the memories we will never forget. Thank you for making us the luckiest fans on the face of this Earth for 13 incredible seasons. This will always be Wade County. You are always welcome here. This isn't goodbye; this is see you later.
As Pat Riley says, you're a "Forever Man." You may have gone back to Chicago, but Miami will always be your house.