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Dwyane Wade's Most Iconic NBA Moments from Hall of Fame Career

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2019

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) smiles after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, April 3, 2019, in Miami. The Celtics won 112-102. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

He's been Flash, the precocious youngster with a quick-strike first step and relentless will to get to the rim. He's been Way of Wade, the wiser in-his-prime veteran who helped coax LeBron James and Chris Bosh to his city to win championships. He's been Father Prime, the former superstar who ceded his starting role to younger players while showing flashes (heh) of his past brilliance.

And, at some point in the very near future, Dwyane Wade will be a former NBA basketball player.

The Miami Heat guard will play his final home game—and perhaps the final game of his NBA career—Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Miami needs to win out and get help from the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets to secure at least four more games of Father Prime.

Wade's legacy? Fully secured. Three championships. A Finals MVP. Thirteen All-Star appearances. Eight All-NBA selections. An unquestioned status as the greatest player in Heat franchise history and unquestioned status as either the third- or fourth-best shooting guard in basketball history.

With that in mind, let's hit the rewind button and take a look back on one of the most iconic players of this generation.

     

June 26, 2003: Miami Heat Take Wade with No. 5 Overall Pick in 2003 NBA Draft

NEW YORK - JUNE 26:  Dwyane Wade who was selected by the Miami Heat waves to the crowd during the 2003 NBA Draft at the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden on June 26, 2003 in New York, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agree
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

It's easy to forget now, but Wade was not considered a surefire superstar coming into the draft. His rise up draft boards was the product of a brilliant March Madness run that saw him single-handedly lead Marquette—then a mid-major Conference USA team—to the Final Four.

Projections at the time viewed him as a potential starter, but there were concerns about how his 6'4" height would translate. The Heat actually drafted Wade a little ahead of projections that had him listed as a mid-to-late lottery selection.

The next five selections after Wade: Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford, Michael Sweetney and Jarvis Hayes.

Suffice it to say Miami made the right call.

              

Nov. 19, 2004: Wade Hits First Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater

Wade capped off an iconic performance in a 107-105 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz by knocking down a mid-range jumper over the outstretched arms of Raja Bell as the buzzer sounded.

He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime on his way to a then-career high 39 points.

           

March 25, 2005: This Is Just an Incredible Sequence

No words necessary. Not nearly enough praise heaped upon this moment.

That is all.

            

May 15, 2005: Wade Scores 42 Points vs. Wizards to Push Heat to Conference Finals

If there were any doubts remaining about Wade's superstar status, he quelled them in a major way in the 2005 postseason.

He accounted for 42 of the Heat's 99 points in their 99-95 Game 4 victory over the Washington Wizards, completing the sweep and sending Miami to its first conference finals since 1997.

             

June 8-20, 2006: The Finals

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

#L3GACY - Miami's 2006 season comes to an amazing conclusion. @DwyaneWade is an NBA Finals MVP! https://t.co/GO0aqit4lH https://t.co/R2EKjKCgBX

In Dallas, it's known as the Finals the referees handed the Heat.

In Miami, it's known as the icon-making moment for Dwyane Wade.

Down 2-0 after a pair of double-digit losses against the Mavericks, Wade threw the Heat on his shoulders and carried them to four straight wins and the first title in franchise history. He averaged 39.3 points over the final four games of the series, showcasing a Jordan-esque relentlessness in getting to the bucket—all while getting a few calls along the way.

Three of Miami's four wins in the series were by one possession. In Game 3, Wade spearheaded a comeback from 13 points down over the game's final six minutes. In Game 5, he went to the free-throw line with 1.9 seconds remaining and calmly hit a game-tying and game-winning shot, two of his 25 attempts in the game.

Game 6 saw Wade go on the road and score 36 points in the Heat's 95-92 win, single-handedly capturing his first ring in a game that saw Shaquille O'Neal limited to nine points.

"I don't want to say I put the team on my back. You know, we did it together. Like Coach said, like we've all been saying, it's been 15 strong," Wade said at the time.

"They gave me the opportunity by putting the ball in my hands to prove people wrong. When I came [into] the series, it was, I can't shoot. I don't know where they got that from. So I proved to them I can shoot, and then after that, I proved I can play, and that's all I tried to do: prove people wrong."

              

March 9, 2009: The Swipe and the Swish

This is perhaps the most legendary single play of Wade's career. Chicago Bulls guard swingman John Salmons had possession of the ball and a good matchup against Udonis Haslem in isolation as the final seconds were seemingly winding down.

Seeing the mismatch and Salmons' tunnel vision, Wade cheated off his man, swiped the ball and went racing up the court to knock down an off-balance runner as time expired.

With Shaq having been shipped off to Phoenix the year before, the implication was clear as Wade leaped to the top of the scorer's table. Miami is Wade County. No questions asked.

         

April 12, 2009: Wade Scores Career-High 55 Points

Un-Shaqled (heh) for the first time since his rookie season and fully healthy after two injury-riddled seasons, Wade had his finest individual campaign in 2008-09. He averaged 30.2 points (career best), 7.5 assists (t-career best) and 5.0 rebounds while finishing third in the MVP voting behind LeBron and Kobe Bryant.

The season featured his first 50-point game (Feb. 22), his highest win shares total (14.7) and was the 20th-best season in NBA history in terms of player efficiency rating (30.36).

Everything came to a head in the regular season's final game, when Wade put the proverbial cherry on top of his brilliant season with a 55-point outburst to lead the Heat to a 122-105 win over the Knicks. It's one point shy of Glen Rice's all-time franchise record.

            

Nov. 12, 2009: Anderson Varejao Gets Dunked into Orbit

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

#L3GACY - ⚡️ @DwyaneWade gets challenged by Anderson Varejão resulting in the ultimate poster and one of many #WoW moments over #FatherPrime's 16 year career. https://t.co/GO0aqit4lH https://t.co/K33R3qmgft

On one side, LeBron's current teammate. On the other, his future teammate.

Not hard to see why James took his talents to South Beach after this clip.

          

Feb. 14, 2010: D-Wade Wins All-Star MVP

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

RT to send 2010 All-Star MVP @DwyaneWade to his 12th All-Star Game! #NBAvote #TBT https://t.co/vO3DSKlz1E

While Wade never won a regular-season MVP, he does have a Finals and All-Star Game trophies on his mantle. He took home his lone All-Star MVP at the 2010 game held in—where else—Dallas, leading all players with 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals.

"I've definitely had a little luck in Dallas," Wade told reporters at the time. "Of course, 2006 is very, very memorable. It's something you dream about doing, winning an NBA championship. I also was lucky enough to win MVP award then. To come and do it again is special."

You could see the beginnings of the Miami connection forming, with Wade and LeBron connecting on a few alley-oops. The storm was coming. We just didn't see it at the time.

            

July 2010: LeBron, Bosh Sign in Miami, Chaos Ensues

The Decision is regularly mentioned as a seminal moment in LeBron's career, often ignoring the integral role Wade played in making everything happen. Without Wade's friendship with James, the Heatles never form. Without Wade being willing to actively recruit on behalf of the franchise, those four Finals appearances never happen. Without Wade sacrificing his top dog role and willingly taking on second-banana status, the Heat never get into a room with LeBron.

Pat Riley was the mastermind behind the cap maneuvers and his legendary status helped sway Bosh and LeBron, both desperate for rings at that point in their careers.

But Wade was the incumbent superstar, the one who stood to lose the most on the court and the one who took the smallest salary of the three to make things work under the cap.

LeBron's "legacy" will always be the one affected most by July 2010. When the 30 for 30 comes out about those four years, though, we'll get a better idea of how much Wade meant in closing the deal.

           

Various: LeBron and Wade Were Really, Really, Really Fun Teammates

We could give you these highlights in chronological order or only provide the best handful, but that would be like choosing between your children.

OK, probably even harder than that.

So how about you all just take a handful of minutes, bask in the awesomeness of the LeBron-D-Wade combo and we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming when we're all done? Awesome.

           

Dec. 6, 2010: The Photo

Morry Gash/Associated Press

OK, we lied.

This is one of the most iconic pictures in basketball history. It gets its own section.

Fun fact: Wade didn't even alley-oop the pass to LeBron on that play. It was a bounce pass. And the picture is so cool that we absolutely do not care.

           

June 2012/June 2013: Back-to-Back Championships

We're far enough removed from the backlash to appreciate what these Heat really were: a once-in-a-generation collection of Hall of Famers who revolutionized basketball, for better or for worse. These were flawed antiheroes—not a 73-win team that added one of the 15 greatest players ever through a salary-cap fluke.

The strain and struggle was evident from the beginning and far greater than LeBron, Wade or Bosh realized. The 2011 Finals loss was inexplicable but also resulted in a necessary moment of self-reflection for all three men.

LeBron bulked up, became a post bully and had almost no flaws in his game when he returned following the 2011 lockout. Wade fully relinquished top-dog status; LeBron was Batman, and he was Robin. Bosh transformed his game to become an attacking defensive menace who stretched the floor and opened the LeBron/Wade slash game.

In 2012, the Heat came up against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that looked destined to knock them off their perch someday. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka were all under-25 superstars, a dynasty in the making (or so we thought). The Heat dispatched of them in five games, with Wade scoring 20-plus points in each of the last four.

The 2013 Finals was more daunting and by far the greatest accomplishment of the Big Three era. Taking down a Spurs team spearheaded by Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, a not-yet-disgruntled Kawhi Leonard and a whirring playing style designed to crush the Heat defense was a Herculean task and required one of the most clutch shots in NBA history from Ray Allen.

While most will remember that Allen shot or James' individual brilliance, particularly in Games 6 and 7, Wade gutted through persistent knee trouble in the series. He needed his knee drained before Game 7 and put up 23 points and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes.

That fortitude arguably wound up costing Wade games later in his career; he was limited to 54 games the following year and averaged 20 points per game just once afterward.

That said? Totally worth it.

             

Feb. 9, 2018: Wade Returns to Miami

Let's just say the next half decade or so was...kind of an odyssey. The Heat lost their Finals rematch with the Spurs, leading to a dismantling of the Big Three, and Wade-Bosh never quite coalesced as a "Big Two."

By the 2016 offseason, Bosh's career was in jeopardy due to blood clots and Wade's relationship with Pat Riley deteriorated to the point he returned home to Chicago.

The next year and a half was a forgettable career nadir, in which Wade struggled to keep the Bulls relevant on a mismatched roster and then attempted to recapture long-since-dissipated magic with LeBron in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers' trade of Wade back to Miami was little more than a mercy; he was probably nearing "DNP-CD" status after Cleveland's deadline moves.

That trade instead wound up rewriting the last chapter of Wade's career. His first game back with the Heat offered few positives. He finished with just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in a 91-85 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. But he came through with a block in the final minute and sent the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd home in an uproar over the prodigal son's return.

Little did they know they were watching the birth of Father Prime.

       

Feb. 17, 2019: The Final All-Star Game

It had everything you could've possibly wanted. A LeBron alley-oop. Seven points and four assists in just 10 minutes of play.

Wade's final All-Star Game may have been appointed by Adam Silver, but he held his own in his final appearance against the world's best.

           

Feb. 27, 2019: The Final Game-Winner

No words.

Just watch.

           

October 2018-April 2019: The Farewell Tour

Most players don't get farewell tours. The ones that do are oftentimes sad. They're players who have become shells of their former selves, often playing in an unrecognizable jersey in front of fans who are mostly going through the motions.

Wade's farewell tour was anything but that. He got to do it in front of the fans who adored him, in the city that helped make him an icon. Every stop of the tour has featured a proper goodbye, with even rival fans who spent 16 years despising him pausing to honor a departing rival.

The jersey exchanges became a nightly tracker on social media; fans cared about who D-Wade wanted to share those moments with.

And most of all, he could still bring it on the court. Playing a full-time sixth man role, there were times Wade was the Heat's best player. His averages of 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists are among the most well-rounded for a player his age in league history. Had he wanted to, the 37-year-old could have hung on for a couple more years and perhaps even collected a few more accolades along the way.

Instead, he'll step on the floor Tuesday night for perhaps the final time. Sixteen years, gone in a Flash.