Dwyane Wade: An under-appreciated legend
- Revisiting Wade's exceptional career in the NBA and explaining why he is a legend.
We now know Dwyane Wade as a crucial bench player for the Miami Heat and see the glimpses of "Father Prime," but there was a time when Wade was dominating the NBA and drew comparisons to Michael Jordan with respect to his immediate impact on a game. A small example of it came a few weeks back, when Wade scored 28 points off the bench in game two against the Sixers.
He dominated the first half of the game, scoring 21 points, shooting 8-9 from the field in just 17 minutes of action, helping the Heat snap a 17-game winning streak of the red-hot Sixers.
Wade was drafted in the NBA in 2003 as the no.5 pick by the Miami Heat. This draft class is considered one of the best draft classes in the history of the NBA as it consisted of players like LeBron James, Carmello Anthony, Chris Bosh and Wade himself. Wade played for Marquette University in his college career and recorded 21.1 points per game as a Junior.
Coming into the NBA, nobody expected him to perform at an elite level in his rookie year and have an immediate impact for his team. However, he averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. His performances resulted in his selection for the 2004 NBA All-Rookie Team. He also led the Heat to the playoffs for the first time since Alonzo Mourning's era, helping them advance to the second round by hitting a clutch tear drop over Baron Davis. Their unexpected and surprising run to the playoffs because of a special rookie was ended by a much more experienced Pacers team. However, Wade's rookie campaign and his clutch playoff performances gathered eyeballs.
Going into his sophomore year, Wade improved his game in every statistical category as he averaged 24.1 points, 6.2 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, once again leading his team to the playoffs and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons. They ultimately lost the series due to the numerous injuries he suffered. But it was his 2005-2006 season that separated him from the rest of the players in the league as he averaged an astonishing 27.2 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Owing to his all-around improved performances, along with the support of his teammates, the Heat made it to the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history only to find themselves down 2-0 against the heavy favourites Dallas Mavericks led by their superstar Dirk Nowitzki. It seemed as if the Mavericks would sweep the Heat, earning them their first NBA title, but a young man named Dwyane Wade had other plans.
He scored 43, 36, 42 and 36 points in the next four games respectively, as the Heat defeated the Mavericks, capturing their first ever NBA championship. The 'Finals MVP' undoubtedly went to Wade who averaged an absurd 34.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. This finals series proved that the comparisons to Jordan in terms of impact and taking over a game were quite true and justified.
However, after that season, Wade and the Heat could not replicate the same success as he suffered from numerous injuries to his knees, shoulders and back over the span of the next two years. In the 2008-2009 season, Wade made a massive comeback in the league by averaging 30.2 points, 7.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He became the only NBA player in history to record 2000 points, 500 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in a single season. Wade also finished third in the MVP voting, losing by only a few votes. He was awarded the scoring title and was selected in the 2008 All-NBA Team.
In 2010, he was selected in his sixth consecutive All-Star game, and he returned home with the MVP honors. The 2011 season, however, changed the entire landscape of the NBA when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to take their talent to the Miami Heat and join forces with Wade to form a Big Three.
That Miami Heat team were a tough nut to crack as they made a trip to four consecutive NBA finals, winning two straight championships. During this period, though, Wade started dealing with more and more injuries to his knees which ultimately slowed him down in the coming years. Yet, he played at an All-star level in all of those four seasons and helped Heat win two titles.
All these stories and stats seem irrelevant now as we are into the 2017-2018 season. Wade is 36 years old and way past his magical days when he could pull new tricks out of his bag every now and then. However, we still see glimpses of the beast he used to be on the court. Wade, despite his accomplishments and accolades, is one of the most under-appreciated superstars in the league.
He never stat-padded like a few other players in the league; he never chased money. Instead, he took pay cuts and sacrificed his role in the team to help his team compete and win at the highest level. He even sacrificed his prime years by playing second fiddle to LeBron James just to win games. He always was, and always will be, about winning. He is arguably the third-best shooting guard after Jordan and Kobe. He is a Hall of Famer; he is a legend.
WADE'S ACHIEVEMENTS : NBA champion (2006,2012,2013), NBA finals MVP 2006, NBA All-Star Game MVP 2010, 12X All-Star, 8X All NBA teams, 3X All NBA defensive teams, NBA scoring champ 2008, one of four players in NBA history to record a triple double in an All-Star game, one of eight players in NBA history to lead their franchise in points, assists and steals, one of five NBA players to record atleast two 40 point games in NBA finals, Olympic gold medalist 2008, leading scorer of team USA in 2008 olympics, five NBA finals appearances.Published 06 May 2018, 18:53 IST