This occurred following Wade's dismal performance in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers. Wade looked absolutely out of it from start to finish—ending up with only five points on 13 shots—but not before giving an earful to head coach Erik Spoelstra. The exchange became so heated that several Heat teammates needed to pull Wade away from the sideline.
I'm all for players and coaches getting into it—it's really not as bad as you think it is—but there is a point where that type of arguing doesn't need to take place, and that was one of those times.
Of course, the idea hung around until Dwyane Wade lit up the Pacers for 30 points in the next game, followed by a Game 5 blowout victory, and finally a 41-point performance in the clincher. Whenever there is any sort of scrutiny or animosity surrounding Wade, he's proven to be one of the league's top players when it comes to bouncing back.
Dwyane looked like the Dwyane of 2009 in Games 4 and 6, and it ultimately lead the Heat to a 4-2 series victory over an Indiana Pacers team that had a monumental upset on its mind.
What we'd later find out is that Wade was dealing with significant knee problems throughout the postseason, essentially leading up to that abysmal Game 3 against Indiana. It was the only explanation we could have surmised following the overall average performances from Wade throughout the first round and early into the second round.
Following his NBA Finals victory, Wade had minor surgery done on the knee that was troubling him. It didn't involve anything serious and was described mostly as a simple "cleaning." Wade's expected to be out six-eight weeks—which is why he's out for the Olympics—and should be ready by the beginning of training camp.
Wade dealt with injuries for the majority of the season. It's not something he's foreign to, but he had been consistently healthy for the three seasons prior. He's played through pain before and he's recovered. In fact, he played the best basketball of his career following a number of surgeries that took place near the end of the 2007-'08 season.
He'd end up leading the United States basketball team in scoring, and would then go on to lead the NBA in scoring after averaging 30.2 points per. I'm not going to say that a 31-year-old Wade will recover like a 27-year-old Wade would, but he should come back improved after an otherwise quiet season where he only averaged 22.1 points—the least he's averaged since his rookie year.
That decrease in scoring had a lot to do with LeBron James strengthening his overall game, as well as being given the reigns to the Heat as Wade stated. Dwyane was still efficient, shooting nearly 50 percent, but ailments and a reduced role made him look inferior to the player we normally see him as.
In fact, these ideas of trading Wade had swirled around that very same season.
With Wade sitting out 17 games, the Heat appeared to be just as good as they were when playing with him. LeBron James played more comfortable and Chris Bosh accepted the increased role with open arms. Also, the role players got their chance to shine due to the team's need to fill the vacancy left behind by Wade.
In 15 games without Wade where LeBron James and/or Chris Bosh played, the Heat were 14-1. That's a stat that some may want to disregard, and also one that some say should be looked at. Fifteen games is a healthy sample size, and winning 14 of those 15 games somewhat proves that the Heat are just as good without Wade on the floor.
However, what we failed to realize is that the Heat have no chance of winning if they trade Dwyane Wade. Not only would the backlash from the fanbase be so severe, but the team itself wouldn't be complete. This team doesn't need a point guard or a dominant center because they already have the three pieces that fit, and have also found out how to make them work together.
Speaking of the fanbase, there is a large contingency of fans that are Heat fans solely because of Wade. Following the glory days of Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, the Heat were an awful team and, as a result, the fans were itching to find their newest hero. Eddie Jones, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom were all solid players, but the Heat still lacked that one dynamic piece.
Once Wade joined the team, the Heat became a playoff team and ended up acquiring of Shaquille O'Neal. Two years later, Wade would lead the Heat to their first NBA championship following a Finals series where he averaged 35 points per game and dug his team out of a 2-0 hole.
In three years, Wade and the Miami Heat were champions and fans still haven't forgotten. Even if LeBron James and Chris Bosh are on the team, this city still belongs to Wade as it always should. Although James can say the team now belongs to him, he should also recognize that this fanbase won't have the same adoration for him as they do for Dwyane Wade.
The fans will come even if Wade is gone, and the American Airlines Arena will sellout, but at what cost? The Heat would inevitably lose a lot of loyalists—even with James, Bosh and whoever the Heat traded Wade for winning games. The only people who are going to pack that arena night in and night out will be mostly composed of fans who didn't know this Heat team before 2010.
Wade developed a huge following in Miami between 2008 and 2010. Although the Heat lost in the first round in both instances, the fans were given a show every single night solely because Wade was attempting to will his team to victory. Because they saw the heart and ambition he was emitting in every bounce of the ball, an unmatched amount of respect was given to Wade from those who followed him in the mediocre years.
What happens when James and Bosh end up leaving or retiring? The team will have to suffer through some tough years at a point, and the loyalists will have left due to the organization giving away the player that is the sole reason as to why the Heat are in this position in the first place. Let's not forget that James and Bosh came to Wade's team—without him, none of this is happening.
Wade sacrificed too much for this team in his nine years to end up getting traded. He wants to be with the Miami Heat until he retires, and the organization should feel likewise because of the success he's brought to them. Even if these injuries persist, it would be undoubtedly wrong for the Heat to give up on Wade when the going gets tough.
Plus, the Heat are obviously fine with Wade. He's a proven leader and champion—willing to do whatever it takes to will his team to victory, beckoning them at every weak point to continue to stay the path. You don't replace that with just any other player. Even if a player is a younger and more athletic choice, he doesn't provide what Wade provides to his city and team.
Why fix what isn't broken? The Heat are NBA champions and Wade was the second-best player on the team. He's always there when the team needs him and he has yet to let them down at any significant point in his career. Either way, Wade has been playing with Bosh and James for two years and they're just finally starting to figure things out.
Remember: the Heat weren't exactly at full strength in their NBA Finals run. Chris Bosh needed to sit out a whole lot longer and only returned because his team was desperate for an answer. The Heat can actually play better than they did in last year's NBA Finals, so there's no reason to let go of any key player in the mix.
To an extent, at least.
Sometimes there's only so much a star player can bear with before deciding that he must leave. In order to achieve their primary goal, these players will have to make sacrifices—such as spurning an established following—but it's made for the benefit of that player.
Eventually you come across guys like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki, who have managed to stick it out through the worst times only to come away as champions because they remained loyal to their team—and likewise with the team delivering to them in the form of quality role players.
Dwyane Wade will end up as one of those players. The Heat aren't going to trade him anytime soon no matter what happens—strictly because he is who he is, and the organization is smart enough to realize that. If the Heat made knee-jerk moves when the going got tough, then Bosh would be out of here and LeBron James would probably be in Orlando.
Luckily, there are sane people working for the Miami Heat who know the team better than anyone else.
Pat Riley has grown too close to Wade over these past nine years to ever trade him. They've been part of some incredible teams, and also a part of the horror that occurred shortly after. Riley knows what type of person Wade is, and it's exactly why he's still on the team and will remain on the team until he retires—which will be when his No.3 is lifted into the rafters.