Ever since NBA star guard Dwyane Wade was traded back to the Miami Heat earlier this month, there’s been speculation over his retirement. At age 36, Wade is no longer the dominant superstar who once helped Miami win three titles. After 15 years in the NBA, it soon may be time for him to hang it up.
Miami Heat Dwyane Wade passes the ball off against Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl, left, and DeMar DeRozan during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)
Wade recently told the media that he’s not quite ready to retire, but if he was, there is no doubt that Wade is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Nobody will argue that Wade doesn’t deserve a seat at the table of all-time greats. The only argument is where that seat will be placed at the table.
Has Wade earned a seat on the end of the table, where the very elite of the elite sit? Or does he belong on the other end with the lesser greats? Is he sitting in John’s seat or Peter’s?
The more immediate question is whether Wade deserves the same farewell tour that Lakers legend Kobe Bryant received during his final season in the NBA in 2016. That’s a tough one to answer.
Former NBA player and coach, and current commentator, Mark Jackson dubbed Wade the third greatest two-guard in NBA history behind only Kobe at No. 2 and Michael Jordan at No. 1. That’s a huge compliment—but I agree. Wade is a 12-time All-Star and eight-time All-NBA Team honoree. He’s been named to the All-Defensive Team three times, won the NBA scoring title once and won three NBA championships. That may not equal Kobe’s resume, which includes 18 All-Star appearances, 15 All-NBA Team selections, 12 All-Defensive selections and five NBA titles. But that’s why Kobe’s second and Wade’s third.
What Wade does have on his resume that Kobe doesn’t is a NBA title won nearly all by himself. Wade may have won two of his three titles with superstar LeBron James, but he had to get his first ring on his own. Wade singlehandedly carried the Miami Heat to a Finals series victory over the Dallas Mavericks in 2006. Wade’s only co-star was a washed up Shaquille O’Neal, who barely averaged 13 points per game during that series. If it wasn’t for Wade going off, scoring more than 40 points in multiple games that series—and averaging 35 through six games—Miami wouldn’t have won. Not even Kobe, who won two rings without Shaq, has a Finals performance quite like the show Wade put on in ‘06.
That alone gives Wade the right to expect a farewell tour similar to Kobe’s. But Wade told the media he doesn’t want one.
“I’m not a narcissist like that,” Wade told ESPN. “I don’t think I need it. I’m not calling Kobe a narcissist. He earned it and needed that. But I can’t set out and say I want a farewell tour like Kobe Bryant. That’s not who I am. I don’t really talk about it, but when the time comes I’ll announce it in my own D-Wade fashion. Hopefully I can move on and live on the memories from that point on.”