The Miami Heat will honour Dwyane Wade with an unprecedented three-day celebration of his career. The main event will be on Sunday, February 23 when Wade will have his jersey retired by the franchise he helped capture three championships.
With many in Heat Nation and around the league taking time to reflect on D-Wade's incredible career, we asked our NBA.com experts to weigh-in and gives us their favourite Dwyane Wade memories.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Wade's performance in Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
This isn't necessarily my favourite Wade memory, but it's one moment in his career that I'll never forget. The Heat were down 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers at the time and trailed at halftime of Game 4. Had they gone on to lose that game, the series would've almost certainly been a wrap - this is your reminder that only 11 teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs - meaning the Heat would've followed up their Finals loss to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks with an early second-round exit.
But, of course, the Heat didn't lose. Wade helped lead a comeback with a 22-point second half, which he did on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. He also added six rebounds, five assists and one block to his totals in the second half.
He was simply incredible.
Wade finished the game with 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks - a solid all-around performance, but not one that necessarily pops when looking back at the best games of his career. And yet, if Wade doesn't go off in the second half, the Heat almost certainly don't go on to win the first of two straight titles.
It was a reminder of what made him one of the best players in his generation.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): "That's how you do it."
When I think D-Wade memories, I think about some of the ones I was able to watch in real-time. For me, none stand out more than his dunk over Anderson Varejao in 2009.
#L3GACY - [:zap:] ️ @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 pic.twitter.com/K33R3qmgft- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 4, 2019
I was 15, watching at home with my dad, mainly to see what LeBron would do. Over 10 years later, all I remember from that game is Wade's dunk.
It's an iconic moment in his career and quite possibly the best dunk of his career and the set up made it all the more impressive.
Literally one play before, LeBron tried - and failed - to get a poster dunk of his own over Jermaine O'Neal. Wade gathered the loose ball, took it in transition and displayed the one-footed athleticism he became known for showcasing during his athletic peak with a side-step to set up the slam.
Body to body. Through the contact. And one. Count it.
And of course, his clear message to remind everyone how to properly finish over someone. Unforgettable.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): The entirety of the 2006 NBA Finals.
Back in 2011, John Hollinger - then at ESPN - wrote that Wade's performance was the greatest Finals performance in modern NBA history. Although LeBron James has uncorked a few since which could cast doubt upon that claim, it's undeniable that in his finest hour Wade was as remarkable as even the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
After falling down 2-0, the Heat were on the brink of falling into an insurmountable 3-0 deficit as they trailed by 13 in the fourth quarter. And then D-Wade took over, scoring 12 points over the final six minutes to force overtime and spearhead the comeback. For the series, Wade averaged 34.7 points per game including 39.3 over the final four games which included over 18 free throw attempts per game. Say what you will about the officiating but give credit where it's due: Wade forced the issue with a relentless attacking mindset and turned up the pressure like nobody ever has... literally. His 97 free throw attempts for the series remain the most by any individual in a single NBA Finals in the modern era.
Understanding the context of the era in which he did it puts Wade's performance in an even crazier perspective. In today's league dominated by high volume bucket getters, we barely even blink at the notion of someone dropping 35. But 2006 was not 2020. There were on average 14 fewer points scored per team and about 10 fewer possessions per game. What Wade shouldered in that series against the Mavericks rivals any burden lifted by any one individual.
Even crazier? He was just 24!
It's easy to get lost in the moment of remembering Wade's time playing alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh and though certainly spectacular, nothing dazzles my memory quite like young Wade delivering the goods on the biggest stage and forever cementing his legacy in Finals lore.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.