Shortly before the 2017-18 All-Star break, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded veteran shooting guard Dwyane Wade back to the team that drafted him: the Miami Heat. With this move, the legendary shooting guard’s career seems to have come full circle.
Wade’s outstanding junior year at Marquette earned him First Team All-America honors and consideration for the John R. Wooden Award Trophy. After generating strong interest from NBA teams, Wade declared for the 2003 NBA draft. The Miami Heat selected him with the 5th overall pick in what later became an outstanding draft. This 2003 class of rookies includes NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. Let’s take a look at what Wade accomplished between his 2003 arrival and 2018 return to Miami.
White Hot Career
In his 2003-04 rookie season, Wade averaged an impressive 16.2 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game. In most years, that statline would have been enough to bring home the Rookie of the Year Award. However, the 2003-04 season was loaded with budding star rookies, and Wade’s 22-year-old season earned him a third-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting. The two rookies that finished ahead of him were future teammate LeBron James (winner of the award) and NBA all-star Carmelo Anthony (runner-up), while future teammate Chris Bosh placed one spot behind Wade in voting. Wade’s trophy case didn’t remain empty, as, even among tough competition, he was named to the all-rookie team.
The following year, which was Wade’s age 23 season, he was named to the All-Star team for the first time. This began a streak of 12 consecutive seasons in which Wade was selected to be an All-Star. Although Wade will likely not receive another selection to the midseason event, he’s in good company as all-time greats like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird also finished their careers with 12 All-Star selections a piece.
A mere two seasons later, Wade secured his first NBA championship and was recognized as the Finals MVP. The Heat closed out the series against the Dallas Mavericks in six games, largely due to Wade’s jaw-dropping 35.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game across the series. His 2006 supporting cast included a 33-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, Antoine Walker, and Jason Williams.
Wade was unable to bring Miami another championship in the following five seasons but, in the meantime, added to his personal accolades. In the summer of 2008, Wade won a gold medal with Team USA in the Summer Olympics, leading the team with 16 points per game. In the following 2008-09 season, Wade led the NBA in scoring by eclipsing 30 points per game for the first and only time in his career.
Possibly due to Dwyane Wade’s recruiting efforts, LeBron James famously took “his talents to South Beach” in the summer of 2010, which forever changed the Heat as a franchise and, in turn, Wade’s legacy. After adding newcomers James and Chris Bosh, the new look Heat rolled through the 2010-11 regular season with a 58-24 record and cruised past the first three rounds of the playoffs to become Eastern Conference champions. However, the so-called “Big 3” faltered against an experienced Mavericks squad and fell short in the championship series.
Miami returned with a vengeance the following two seasons, as they plowed through the playoffs to win both years’ championships. In 2012, they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, and the team went back to back by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in 2013. The Heat’s reign ended in 2014, as a rematch with the Spurs ended in a convincing defeat in five games. After the 2014 season ended, LeBron announced his plan to return to Cleveland, which marked the beginning of the end for the Miami Heat dynasty.
Wade has yet to win another title since defeating the Spurs in 2013, but his trophy case remains pretty crowded. After reflecting on such an illustrious career, it’s clear that Wade will be a future inductee into the Hall of Fame and belongs in the debate over the greatest shooting guards of all time.
Wade’s many awards helped him earn a place in Miami Heat history, which will make his jersey a timeless classic for years to come. Pick up your official Dwyane Wade merchandise over at Fanatics.