The All-NBA first-team honors became second-team. The past two years he has been third-team. They only pick three. The consensus top-five on every best-players list has become a disputed top-10.
It is harsh to call Wade in decline, because he remains very good and still is capable of flashes of greatness. But he is no longer the best he has been. When a prominent opponent calls him out on that for real, it hurts. Even if hes pretend-called-out, it still reminds everybody that Wade is aging.
A fascinating season lay ahead for Wade and the Heat as they prepare to open a four-day training camp on Tuesday in the Bahamas Miami setting out on its attempt at a third-straight championship.
James, Wade and Chris Bosh all can become free agents in the summer of 2014, as if going for a three-peat wasn't enough drama.
Re-signing James will be Miamis clear, at-all-costs emphasis.
Wades future beyond this season will be in an area more gray, and be an intriguing subtext to the coming season. His situation is complicated by all of the implications of what Durant said and how Wade responded real or not.
Will Wade, then 32, be a player Miami wants to spend big to re-sign beyond Pat Rileys famous (and admirable) sense of loyalty? Will he continue to be viewed as at a level to command maximum offers from other teams? Will that level of play be sufficient to make Wade continue as a coveted teammate to LeBron here moving forward?
I still think all of those answers can be yes. Heat fans surely hope so of the most popular player in franchise history maybe our most loved athlete ever after Dan Marino.
But I also think this weeks Durant/Wade drama, real or contrived, invites us to wonder. And if its real, then how Wade responded revealed a raw nerve.
Wades Instagram note said he wants to make Durant respect his place in history. But it isn't about that. Wades place in history as a champion and future Hall of Famer is secure.
This is about his place in 2013 and 14.
This is about a great, proud basketball player trying to hold on to elite as doubters and time try to take it away.
And that is Dwyane Wades truth whether this little cyberspace feud turns out to be real or the setup to a new Gatorade commercial.