If you're reading this, you've already read the headline and likely clicked this article for one of two reasons: You agree Dwyane Wade is the greatest athlete to ever play for a South Florida professional sports team, or you're here to skim the article and leave a comment that says something to the effect of Umm, ever hear of Dan Marino, idiot?
If you're the "Dan Marino clicker," you might be right. Marino might be the greatest athlete South Florida has ever seen. Your argument has some valid points, but because you're here already, why not read a cogent case for why Wade is, in fact, the greatest professional athlete in the history of South Florida.
1. Rings matter. Let's go ahead and get to the most obvious advantage Dwyane Wade has over Dan Marino: Wade has championships on his resumé. Three, to be exact. Now, before you go screaming about how titles don't mean everything, ask yourself one question: Are you a Miami Hurricanes fan? Do you see where this is going? Hurricanes fans end every argument the same way: My team has five titles, and yours doesn't. So why wouldn't the same apply here?
We measure athletes by their teams' successes, whether or not that's fair. Everyone loves Marino. But Marino never won a title. You've never been to a championship parade and watched Marino roll by giving you a beauty-pageant wave. Wade has had that day three times. You can argue all you want about who had more help and who was more responsible for wins, but in the end, Marino never ended a season with a victory. Wade did that three times.
2. Wade played during his franchise's greatest era. It's pretty hard to say Marino did more for South Florida sports than Wade when Marino didn't even play during the most successful era of Miami Dolphins football. Wade followed an era when the Miami Heat constantly came up short.
The Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway teams were, in the end, known for losing more than they were known for winning. Really, those Heat squads from the '90s have a lot in common with the Dolphins teams Marino played for: great regular-season successes followed by heartbreaking postseason defeats. Wade's entire career has been peak Heat. Marino's career runs second to a winning era of Dolphins football in the '70s.
3. Wade catapulted Miami onto the world stage. If you walk into a street market in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, you'll find bootleg Miami Heat jerseys. In China, Wade and, by proxy, the Miami Heat are household names. Millions of people around the globe associate Miami with Wade before anything else. Marino, whether it's due to the era in which he played or his lack of postseason success, just doesn't have that same pull.
Maybe it has a lot to do with Wade playing in the age of social media and cell-phone cameras. Wade has made an effort to make himself and the Miami Heat a brand known across the globe, and he has put the word "Miami" into the mouths of more people in countries you haven't even heard of.
4. Wade has been a part of more memorable sports moments than anyone else. The 1972 Dolphins might forever go down in history as the only undefeated NFL team, but for what are they really known? What do people remember? Every highlight you see of that team playing football is a bruising Larry Csonka run or a sack. When it comes to Wade's time in Miami, there is no shortage of individual moments that will forever stick out in the minds of not only Heat fans but also NBA fans.
Maybe it's because the NBA lends itself to individual moments more than the NFL, NHL, or even MLB. Maybe it's because Wade has been a part of more games that took place on a bigger stage than everyone else combined. Or maybe it's just the fact that Wade — and the players who came to Miami because of him — always delivered in the clutch and provided South Florida with sports moments you'd expect to find in cheesy Kevin Costner movies.
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5. Wade has been the most personable sports star we've ever seen. How much do you really know about Dan Marino? Not much. You know what you see on TV. He's a South Florida sports legend, but do you really feel like you know what he's all about as a person? We know Marino the quarterback, analyst, and picture taker, but not Marino the person.
This difference might be a product of the era in which Wade has played, but it doesn't make it less true. Wade has let fans into his life like no athlete in the history of South Florida sports. We witnessed him growing up, having kids, divorcing, remarrying, and doing everything else in between — not just in the newspapers, but also via his social media.
Between Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, Wade is constantly letting fans look through a window into his life. His transparency has made us feel like we as fans know him more than we know any other player to ever put on our teams' jersey. That matters, and it's a part of what makes Dwyane Wade almost feel like a part of our family.