Dwyane Wade

16 must-watch games of Dwyane Wade's 16th and final season

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Dwyane Wade (NBA Getty Images)

When Dwyane Wade announced he would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, he gave us as NBA fans an opportunity to reflect upon all Wade has given to the game for so long, and an opportunity to properly prepare to bid him farewell.

While it's highly unlikely he plays in all 82 games - he's sat for at least three games each season over the course of his career - each stop along Wade's final NBA season will allow fans to appreciate the greatness that the three-time champion has shared with the league since 2003.

From his last "first" game at American Airlines Arena to the last regular season on the Heat's schedule, here are 16 stops along Wade's farewell tour that are sure to deliver plenty of emotion and entertainment…

Oct. 20 vs. Charlotte Hornets

Opening night is always a major occasion in the NBA season, and Wade's last home opener comes when the Heat host All-Star Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets.

Miami, who was 26-15 at American Airlines Arena in 2017-18, will look to get things started on a good note in 2018-19, while the countdown of remaining regular season home games for Wade will begin.

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Dec. 10 @ Los Angeles Lakers

It's no secret that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade share a special bond.

As opponents, James and Wade have faced off 30 times over the course of their 16-year careers, with each player winning 15 games. As teammates, the duo spent over four seasons together, hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy together two times - but it's much deeper than the game of basketball, the two are like brothers.

For likely the final time, Wade and James will face off against one another when the Heat visit the STAPLES Center to take on the Lakers. If Miami and Los Angeles were to split this year's season series, the pair would fittingly end with an even head-to-head record of 16-16.

Dec. 12 @ Utah Jazz

The parallels between Wade and Jazz rising star Donovan Mitchell are too obvious to ignore. Mitchell's size, slashing ability, explosiveness and role at a young age are reminiscent of Wade - Kobe has said that Mitchell should emulate elements from Wade's game, and Wade has acknowledged Mitchell as a budding superstar as well.

Though Wade is no longer among the league's elite guards, this mid-December game between the Jazz and Heat will serve as an unofficial passing of the to torch to Mitchell, as it is more than likely the final time the two will play one another.

Dec. 16 @ New Orleans Pelicans

The city of New Orleans is an underappreciated landmark in Wade's basketball career.

His college career high? 35 points on the campus of Tulane University. Less than three months later, Wade was leading Marquette University to the 2003 Final Four in New Orleans - just the third Final Four in the school's history.

Fast forward another 12 months, and Wade was becoming a household name when he averaged 15.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds as a rookie to lead the Miami Heat to a first-round series win over Baron Davis and the New Orleans Hornets.

After making a number of memories in all stages of his career in New Orleans, Wade's final game in the Big Easy should be a special one.

Jan. 19 @ Chicago Bulls

Dwyane Wade is a Chicagoan through and through.

From developing an NBA dream after watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the 1990s to realizing his dream by joining his hometown team in the 2016 offseason, Wade wouldn't be who he is today without the city he calls home.

Wade will play in front of his hometown crowd for the final time on Jan. 19 when Miami visits the United Center.

Feb. 13 @ Dallas Mavericks

The American Airlines Center is the site where Wade won his first of three NBA titles in 2006, capturing Finals MVP by averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

In his final visit to Dallas, Wade will face another future Hall of Famer in Dirk Nowitzki when the Heat take on the Mavericks in the final game before All-Star Weekend.

Feb. 21 @ Philadelphia 76ers

On Oct. 28, 2003, Dwyane Wade made his NBA debut in Philadelphia at the then-Wachovia Center.

Barring another meeting in the playoffs, Wade's final appearance at what is now known as the Wells Fargo Center comes when the Heat visit the Sixers after the All-Star break.

Feb. 27 vs. Golden State Warriors

In 23 career games against Golden State, Wade has averaged better numbers (25.3 points, 7.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds) than he has against any other franchise.

The defending champs make their lone trip to Miami in late February. Based on his approach to his final meeting with Kobe, I wouldn't expect two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant to show any mercy to Wade and the Heat. Conversely, Wade will get one final chance to put up big numbers against the Warriors.

Feb. 28 @ Houston Rockets

In addition to James, Wade shares a similar brotherly bond with the Rockets Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

Miami plays Houston for the second and final time of the 2018-19 season in late February - the last time Wade will line up across from his two good friends. Similar to the game in Los Angeles against James, this game is sure to be full of emotion for Wade and mutual respect among both teams.

TBD - vs. Jimmy Butler

Butler and Wade are two of the most recognizable Marquette alums in basketball and strengthened their bond as friends during the year in which they shared the court as members of the Chicago Bulls.

While it's unclear who Butler could suit up for this season - he could find himself playing with Wade once again in Miami - the potential of a final matchup between the two will provide an opportunity for Butler to express his gratitude for a player that helped pave the way for him.

March 6 @ Charlotte Hornets

As mentioned earlier, Wade's NBA dream was born when he watched Michael Jordan lead the Chicago Bulls to their first-ever NBA title in 1991. Wade was once signed to Jordan Brand, and there is a clear mutual respect between two of the greatest shooting guards to ever lace them up.

As Jordan is the majority owner of the Hornets franchise, this will be the final time that Wade gets to play in front of his childhood idol.

March 22 @ Milwaukee Bucks

While the Bucks no longer play in the Bradley Center, the new Fiserv Forum is just steps away from where Wade spent two seasons playing as a Marquette Golden Eagle.

Wade, who was a consensus First-Team All-American in his sophomore season at Marquette, gave the fans of Milwaukee plenty to cheer about during his college career. When he visits the city to play the Bucks for one final time, expect a very appreciative home crowd.

March 30 @ New York Knicks

Often referred to as the "Mecca of Basketball", there isn't much more special than playing in front of the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

The fans of New York, appreciators of great basketball and witnesses of 16 seasons of greatness by Dwyane Wade, will be sure to send off the 12-time All-Star the right way in his final visit to the Garden.

April 1 @ Boston Celtics

One night after playing at Madison Square Garden, Wade and the Heat will travel to TD Garden to take on Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.

Coming into the 2018-19 season, Wade has faced the Celtics 42 times in the regular season and another 33 times in the playoffs. In Wade's last visit to Boston, expect the Celtics faithful to show respect and appreciation for the countless battles between the three-time champion and their team.

Additionally, it will be a big moment for Celtics guard Terry Rozier, who has idolized Wade since the onset of his career.

April 9 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Wade's final regular season game at American Airlines Arena comes on April 9 when 2018 Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers come to visit.

The Heat are projected to qualify for the 2019 playoffs but if they do not advance to the postseason, this would be the final time that Wade suits up in front of his home crowd in Miami "Wade" County.

April 10 @ Brooklyn Nets

The Heat close the 2018-19 regular season at the Barclays Center when they travel to take on the Brooklyn Nets.

Whether or not Wade suits up or plays in the final regular season game of his career will hinge upon Miami's playoff chances, but this game will represent the close of one chapter in his storied career.

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