Heat Fans Should Appreciate Dwyane Wade Before He's Gone
Photo by George Martinez

Heat Fans Should Appreciate Dwyane Wade Before He's Gone

This week, Dwyane Wade gave his signature pump-fake to retirement, choosing instead to rejoin the Miami Heat and its fans for, as he termed it, "one last dance." Wade gave a good thinking to hanging up his Li-Ning Way of Wade sneakers before deciding to return for this 16th year in the league. Ultimately, he chose to return to Miami for one final hurrah so he could properly say goodbye to his adopted home and fans.

By the time the Fourth of July rolls around next year, Wade in a Miami Heat uniform will be a thing of the past. Forever.

No more rumored reunions or offseason questions of whether he will be back. No more watching No. 3 basket pullups before every game. No more off-seasons pondering who might come to town to play with D-Wade.

So appreciate the Wade experience while it's still here. Understand how lucky Heat fans are to know it'll all soon come to an end, and treat the next nine months as such.

Few franchises in any sport get the pleasure of having the services of a legendary hall-of-famer such as Dwyane Wade for a decade and a half. Even fewer of those lucky teams get an announced expiration date of that once-in-a-generation player's services. In the days of free agency and players being traded due to contract demands, or because their team can no longer afford them, it's even rarer for fans to get a heads-up when a player they damn near consider an extended family member is clocking out for the final time.

It usually just happens. Your favorite player is gone. Ask a Miami Marlins fan or the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maybe in the offseason on Twitter, you'll learn that your beloved star isn't on your team anymore. Maybe that crushing departure will happen in the middle of a season and you find out on ESPN. Rarely do you get to say goodbye to a player like Dwyane Wade knowing he won't return. Heat fans are extremely lucky and should be over-the-moon about how everything played out to allow Wade to return to Miami to finish his career here like this.

Just two seasons ago, when Wade left in free agency for the Chicago Bulls, Miami fans took the loss hard. The pain cut deep, and the aftermath of the realization he was leaving can be described only as funeral-like. Fans waited in lines that stretched around the block to buy a Wade jersey after he left: When in hell has that ever happened before?

That was a first and probably a last in local sports. No matter how you felt about Wade choosing to leave at the time, think about that for a moment: When will another player ever mean that much to Miami again? This is bigger than basketball or sports: This is about Dwyane Wade and Miami being head-over-heels in love with each other.

The Wade-Miami love affair will go down in history, more than any playoff seed or, hell, championship season. Wade is Miami. Miami is Wade. Just as the name "Marino" is linked to Miami for the rest of eternity, so will "Wade."

Forget wins and losses; this is about right and wrongs. Wade finishing his career in Miami has always been right. Regardless of how this season turns out or how he plays, it's impossible for it to be wrong.

Damn, Miami is lucky. Let's enjoy this one last dance with Dwyane Wade before it's a distant memory we wish we could relive.

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