Twelve-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade’s illustrious, Hall-of-Fame-caliber career has reached its concluding chapter. Earlier this month, the 36-year-old shooting guard announced he will return to the Miami Heat in 2018-19 for what will be his final NBA season.
By announcing this is his last year ahead of time, Wade has turned this season into a retirement tour. It likely won’t be quite the spectacle Kobe Bryant’s was, but there will be a special atmosphere each night as Dwyane Wade plays his last games in each stadium. Fans will watch, cognizant that this is the last time they’ll get to watch Wade. The drives to the rim, the fadeaway jump shots, thunderous dunks, the chase-down blocks. Wade is nowhere near what he once was, but he still has moments in which he looks reminiscent of his younger self.
So enjoy this last season, NBA fans. Wade is one of the best 30 or so players of all time, and a top-five shooting guard ever. Relish his last season. Remember his prime and appreciate that you’re watching Wade County, the Flash, for the last time.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 games to watch on Dwyane Wade’s retirement tour:
10. Miami Heat @ Charlotte Hornets – March 6, 2019
Who among us can forget that 2016 playoff series? If Purple Shirt Man shows up to Wade’s last game in the Queen City, this matchup might need to be bumped up a couple spots.
9. Miami Heat @ Denver Nuggets – Feb. 11, 2019
When Wade was poised to leave Miami in the summer of 2016, for the first time in his career, Denver made the shortlist of his preferred destinations. The Nuggets impressed Wade with their presentation enough for him to thank them and say it was a hard decision.
@nuggets I wanna thank U guys for WOW-ing my team and I. The future is bright for your organization. Much respect and this decision was hard
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 9, 2016
8. Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs – March 20, 2019
No Spurs fan will soon forget the team’s battles with Wade’s Heat teams. They had one of the most tightly contested and exciting series ever in 2013, which Miami won. Then, the Spurs had their revenge the following postseason, as they absolutely obliterated Miami in the Finals in 2014. Those Heat teams were LeBron James’, not Wade’s, but Wade was still the clear No. 2 guy and an integral part to their success.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat – March 8, 2019
This one would rank higher if Wade’s stint in Cleveland hadn’t been so short-lived. Wade signed with the Cavs in the summer of 2017 on a minimum deal but was traded back to his true home in Miami after 46 games. In those games, Wade averaged 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
6. Houston Rockets @ Miami Heat – Feb. 28, 2018
Wade never ended up on the banana boat, but Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony finally managed to team up. Funnily, the best player on that team isn’t even a banana boater, but James Harden. Wade will get to play against two of his best buddies one last time. That’s pretty cool.
5. Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks – March 22, 2019
Like Denver, Milwaukee was an option for Wade in 2016 free agency. This one goes a little deeper than that, however, due to Wade’s Wisconsin connection; he went to school at Marquette. He’s by far the best player the school has ever produced, and it has retired his number. The fans out in Cream City remember Wade well.
4. Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls– Jan. 19, 2019
The team that Wade actually did pick in 2016. The team that finally pried him away from Miami – only to have him fatefully find his way back. Wade was born in Chicago; this is his last game playing in front of his hometown crowd. The “Three Alphas” Bulls team occupies a corner in Zach Lowe’s Hall of Absurdities.
3. Los Angeles Lakers @ Miami Heat – Nov. 18, 2018
The last time Wade and LeBron James share the court at American Airlines Arena will be pretty special. The two have a lot of history together, and I’m betting there’ll be tears in the eyes of one or two Heat fans during or after this game.
2. Miami Heat @ Dallas Mavericks– Feb. 13, 2019
The Mavs are probably the biggest rival of Wade’s career. They clashed in the 2006 Finals, with Miami coming out as champs. To top it off, Wade took a massive shot at Dirk Nowitzki the following season, saying:
Dirk says they gave us the championship last year, but he’s the reason they lost the championship, because he wasn’t the leader that he’s supposed to be in the closing moments.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban fired right back at Wade, telling ESPN:
“What you know about Dirk’s leadership skills is nonexistent. You don’t have a clue. Your ability to evaluate leadership skills … you obviously have an overinflated value of your own.”
The two teams faced off again in 2011, in the first season of the big three era. And the Mavs, the team written off by just about everybody, kicked Wade & Co.’s asses.
This will be Wade’s last time playing in American Airlines Center, and it’ll be fun to see how Mavs fans choose to celebrate. Will they boo him? Give him a standing ovation? Probably both.
1. Philadelphia 76ers @ Miami Heat – April 9, 2019
This has to be No. 1 on the list. Not because of the matchup – Wade’s history with the Sixers is relatively dull, although he did go for 28 points against them in Game 2 of the first round of last year’s playoffs – but because this is Wade’s last regular-season game ever in Miami. We’re hoping the Heat make the playoffs so we get to watch playoff Wade in action one more time. If Miami somehow misses out, though, this’ll be the last time Heat fans get to watch Wade play basketball.