Once upon a time, the Flash didn't have to manually move merch. The Marquette product surpassed all expectations on his way to a Hall of Fame career and it's fitting that during his swan song season, half the league will be leaving with a game-worn jersey - the other half undoubtedly already had a replica hanging in the closet long before their NBA entrance.
Dwyane Wade, the former fifth overall pick from the 2003 draft is on his last ride and what a ride it has been.
In a draft class that boasted the next great one and a scoring phenom coming off an NCAA title, it was Wade who solidified his all-time status first. The shooting guard's decimation of the Dallas Mavericks during the 2006 NBA Finals was a soul-sucking affair for the Texas stables and a mic spike to fans across the league.
The Mavericks led 2-0 in the series but Wade flipped the switch long before Cleveland beat writers ran out of more interesting plot points to blog about.
In games three through six, Wade averaged 39.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.5 APG and 18.3 free throw attempts a game. Wade took advantage of the whistle and dropped free throw after free throw crushing the Mavericks' hopes with each cut of the mesh.
Shaquille O'Neal was outshone by a teammate in the Finals for the first time in his career and a new legend was born.
Wade was not blessed with a clean bill of health and it's unfortunate that was the case because the 06 Finals served as a coming out party and with a little better luck, who knows how high Wade climbs.
Over the next few years, Wade's athleticism wowed fans across the globe. Vince Carter and Michael Jordan aside, there might not be a better in-game dunker to ever grace the two slot. Don't believe me? Ask Emeka Okafor, Jermaine O'Neal and Anderson Varejao. (Please note the extra disrespect Wade dishes stepping over Andy V, not talked about nearly enough.)
Following the 06 Finals and a wall of posters only SLAM subscribers could attest to, Wade had perhaps the greatest individual season ever to not result in an MVP trophy.
In 2009, Wade averaged 30.2 PPG, 5 RPG, 7.5 APG, 2.2 SPG and his Heat won 43 games with Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers flanking him as the secondary options - seriously, they were two and three in points per game that season.
This season we've talked a lot about hot streaks. Players running through the league on a torrid pace, James Harden had an absolute tear this winter and everyone remembers Kobe Bryant in January of 2006 but Wade's 13 game stretch during the spring of the 09 season is very much on par.
|Kobe Bryant||Jan 1, 2006 - Jan 31, 2006||43.4||5.6||4.1||61.1|
|James Harden||Dec 29, 2018 - Jan. 23, 2019||44.8||9||8.2||62.8|
|Dwyane Wade||Feb. 2, 2009 - Mar. 13, 2009||37.2||5.9||10.4||65.7|
*All three played 13 games
Remarkably, Wade was only All-Defence three times in his career but his play warranted three or four more appearances with relative ease.
Wade's aggressive nature and supernatural bounce led him to multiple seasons averaging over two steals and a block per game. Jordan is the only other player in the three-point era to have two or more such seasons - the only other two players that have reached the milestone period are Eddie Jones (99) and Ron Harper (87).
Wade's career took a turn when LeBron James and Chris Bosh headed south and the Heatles were formed.
Six years before the eventual unanimous MVP Stephen Curry would move left of center stage to gracefully allow Kevin Durant into the picture in Golden State, Wade opened up Dade county to the King and bent the knee all in the name of winning.
Despite struggling with injuries, thin rosters, and a rocky first season, the Heatles would win two titles and see four straight NBA Finals. Wade saw his game start to slide over the four-year span but his unselfish gesture paid off and as he transitioned into the next stage of his career the Heat kept winning.
Wade had a resurgent couple seasons following James' four-year "college tenure" with Miami. Suggestions of his demise seemed misplaced as he bounced back without King James by his side.
Memorably, Wade gave fans a vintage performance during the 2016 playoffs going for 30+ in back-to-back games against the Toronto Raptors. In Game 4, with the Raptors up 2-1 in the series, Wade forced overtime on a layup with time running down and he had the final bucket in overtime to seal the victory.
Not unlike his Airness, Wade strayed from home before the end but thankfully, Wade is where he belongs to wrap one of the finest careers a guard has ever had.
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