All day, fans shed tears in response to the touching tributes across social media. When night fell, AmericanAirlines Arena was filled with the most energy since championship trophies were last hoisted. There were video tributes, raucous cheers, No. 3s all over the building and even on the bench.
It was as close to a storybook atmosphere as you can get without a title.
All Dwyane Wade needed was a win to make it perfect.
If this was his last game, Wade got the sendoff of a lifetime.
The Heat played to the energy of the crowd the entire night, opening their first set with a pin-down designed to get Wade a wide-open dunk down the middle of the floor. The Sixers, who are locked into the East's No. 3 seed and had little to play for, gave little resistance on the opening possession—or much of the night, for that matter.
Miami carried a 19-point lead into the halftime break, and the Sixers never came close to making it a game. Philly shot just 40.8 percent from the floor, including a ghastly 5-of-25 performance from beyond the arc. Joel Embiid and JJ Redick both sat for load-management purposes.
Ben Simmons finished with 16 points in 21 minutes. Zhaire Smith was the only Sixers starter who played more than 21 minutes as the team geared up for the postseason.
It seemed everyone from the fans to his Heat teammates to the Sixers themselves recognized the night was all about Wade. The game tipped well after its scheduled 7:30 p.m. ET start as the Heat honored the shooting guard with a lengthy video package. The first part was narrated by Shaquille O'Neal, the second by LeBron James and the third by his wife Gabrielle Union, teammate Udonis Haslem and Heat president Pat Riley.
"No matter what narratives lie ahead," Riley said in the package, "know this city will always be proud to rep your name across its backs. Because this is, and forever will be, Wade County."
The video finished with Wade's son, Zaire, recreating his father's legendary 2007 Converse commercial.
"Man, you're going to make me cry before this game," Wade told the crowd. "Man, I love you guys. I'm thankful for this moment. I'm thankful for this entire season."
"I thank you guys for dancing with me this year. I thank you guys for your patience this year. I thank you for all your love, and for you having my back this year. I've got some brothers that will always be my brothers. I love you guys."
More video tributes followed, with names ranging from Barack Obama to Derek Jeter participating. At halftime, fans were treated to a video package released by Budweiser that featured Wade being presented items by his mother, among others, saying how he's touched their lives off the court.
"I am more proud of the man you have become, than the basketball player," Jolinda Wade said in the video. "You are bigger than basketball."
On the court, Wade seemed like a man who still had two or three years left. His 30 points came on 10-of-23 shooting, and he knocked down four three-pointers. Every time it seemed like he was running out of gas, he'd hit a shot and AmericanAirlines Arena would explode, giving him and the team energy to go on another run.
The night concluded as it should have: with one final jersey swap. This one was with Zaire, who handed him a No. 2 Heat jersey with his name on the back—a fitting moment as Father Prime ends his basketball career to go home and be a full-time father.