picture source: NBA.com
From 2003 to 2016 we witnessed arguably one of the best shooting guards to ever enter the league. Coming out of Marquette averaging 21.5 points per game, Dwayne Wade took the league by storm and by the end of the 2005 season, the world got to see just how dominant he was. In his early years he was often over-shadowed by his fellow draft-mates LeBron James (1st overall) and Carmelo Anthony (3rd overall) but he was an instant force on the heat averaging 16.1 ppg, 4 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He would eventually lead the team to the playoffs, where he would fall in the second round to the top seeded Pacers.
In 2004, the Heat acquired Shaquille O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers, and they improved their record by 17 wins and again reached the playoffs. In the first round the Heat dismantled the Nets, sweeping the series. Wade averaged 26.3 ppg, 8.8 assists per game while tallying 6 rebounds that series and he didn’t stop there, as the Heat also swept the Wizards, with Wade posting an amazing 31 ppg in that series. Their playoff run unfortunately was put to a halt against Chauncey Billups and the reigning champion Detroit Pistons.
picture source: MiamiSun.com
By the time the 2005-2006 season rolled around, Wade cemented himself as one of the premier scorers in the league, previously making the All-Star team but this year making it as a starter. In the 2006 All-Star game Wade slammed home the game winning put back dunk off Allen Iverson’s missed shot. Wade put up 20 points, shooting 9 for 11 from the field. This would also be the season Wade would reach the Finals and defeat the Dallas Mavericks to become an NBA Champion. Winning finals MVP honors, Wade averaged 34.7 points per game.
Injuries derailed Wade and the Heat’s 2006-2007 season. Wade missed a total of 31 games and was swept by the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Wade would eventually miss all of the 2007-2008 pre-season and the first seven games of the regular season as well, battling injuries, with the Heat eventually ending with the league’s worst record, at only 15 wins. Wade was shut down for the final 21 games to undergo treatment on his ailing left knee. The next two seasons he would go on a tear and win the NBA Scoring Champ in 2009 but resulted in losing in the early rounds of the playoffs.
picture source: Reddit.com
The next few years which we all know as the formation of the Heat’s big 3 era. LeBron James and Chris Bosh all took their talents to South Beach to join Wade in one of the league’s most all-time deadly teams. They would end up winning 2 titles out of their 4 seasons playing together. Losing to the Mavs and the Spurs, the trio had a nice run before separating in 2014, but many didn’t feel that they ever completely met the expectations set forth for them, which eventually led to their breakup. LeBron would go back to Cleveland, while Bosh and Wade stayed, but Bosh’s tenure with the heat would be cut short due to health issues. After consecutive one year deals, Wade would eventually test free agency and join his hometown Bulls in 2016, joining Jimmy Butler and company. The new look Bulls would reach the playoffs but lose in 6 to the Celtics. That summer the Bulls and Wade reached a buyout agreement after trading Butler and waiving Rondo, where Wade would be claimed by the Cavs 3 days later.
We all saw what took place a few days ago, as the Cavs went on a massive overhaul of the roster, which sent Wade back to Miami. Heat fans went crazy. Not to get ahead of ourselves, this isn’t the same Wade from 2003 but it is still very exciting even if you are not a fan of the Heat. In his first game back he shot 16.7% from the field, only notching 3 points in 22 minutes.