Heat season is winding down and the team is fading from playoff contention. So it's time to assess Dwyane Wade's stay in Miami. There have been ups, downs, memories, and heartbreaks.
It's also time to recognize this: Wade is the greatest athlete Miami has ever called its own.
Yeah, "greater" than that guy who played football. There can be only one G.O.A.T in Miami.
That's right. It's time for the mother of all sports debates: Who is the greatest Miami sports player of all-time — Dan Marino or Dwyane Wade?
Things are about to get spicy. RIP your social media timelines. Let's dive in.
1. Dwyane Wade brought three championships to Miami. Titles and rings are not everything when it comes to judging a player. This is especially true in Marino's case. The NFL has many more moving parts and teammates than the NBA. But at the end of the day, championships and parades are important for a memorable fan experience.
Thanks to Wade, Heat fans will go to their graves with some of the greatest sports memories anyone could ever dream of experiencing. Unfortunately, Marino will forever be associated with disappointment.
2. Dwyane Wade has a stronger connection to the city of Miami. A dirty little secret no one ever talks about is that Dan Marino hasn't ever seemed all that thrilled to be in Miami. Maybe Broward County, but not Miami. He would have been the same dude in Minnesota. He's all business.
Wade, on the other hand, makes Miami feel like he grew up here (even though he's from Chicago — and Marino is from Pittsburgh). Wade makes us feel him. He feels us. Since being drafted by the Heat in 2003, Wade has worked hard to connect — except for that short break with the Bulls in Chicago, of course.
Wade gives you the idea he would come over for Thanksgiving dinner if you're a good enough cook. Marino gives more of a vibe that you can cook for him if he lets you.
3. Wade's exit will be far more graceful than Marino's. When Wade left in free agency two seasons ago, fans cried. They flocked to the team store to buy his jersey even after he left. It was like someone had died. By contrast, fans were totally OK with Marino's departure after that 62-7 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Wade will be leaving Miami on fans' shoulders after an unforgettable final season. Marino left through the back door with most fans kicking him in the ass on the way out. Neither final season changes their overall careers, but Wade has stuck the landing on his departure. The Dolphins, by contrast, forgot to file Marino's retirement papers.
4. Wade is the reason Miami had the greatest athlete in sports history for four seasons. Wade brought four seasons of LeBron James in his prime to Miami. That's it. There should be nothing else to say here. As great as Marino was, he wasn't in a position to do anything similar in the NFL.
When people look back on the NBA in 25 seasons and LeBron James is 60 years old, they'll remember his 2010-2014 play for those Heat teams as among the best of all time. That's special. Without Wade and his unique relationship with LeBron, that never happens. Oh, and Chris Bosh. Wade helped attract him too.
Pat Riley gets a lot of credit for the Heat's 2010-2014 run, but it was 90 percent Dwyane Wade's doing. Wade isn't just the greatest player in Miami sports history; he's the greatest general manager to ever work in Miami.
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5. Wade will go down as a better all-time player in his sport than Marino was in his. The NBA hasn't changed that much, statistics-wise, over the years. A three-point shot was added. Guys are bigger and stronger now. Things changed, but much more stayed the same. No one is averaging 60 points a game. In the NFL, statistics will soon leave Marino behind. Yards, touchdowns, completions — by 2050 Marino will be 20th on most lists. He'll be just another guy who didn't win anything a long time ago.
Wade has the rings, but he'll also have stats that will live longer than Marino's. It's not Marino's fault, but that's how it is. In 2050, Wade will still be looked at as an all-time great. NBA players' legacies last much longer. In 30 years, they will still be talking about Wade, but not Marino.
And for good reason. He's the best athlete Miami has ever called its own.