Beloved Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade taught us many lessons during his 16-year career as our local sports star. During his farewell tour, you’ve heard about many of them:
How he refused to accept a loss when there was one second left on the clock; how he created magic with a ball in his hand and wings on his feet; how he was a teammate and, at the same time, a friend, loyal, encouraging and nourishing who never, ever badmouthed another player. He has helped disadvantaged kids, and just over the weekend, he and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, showed public support for Wade’s son who came out as gay. That’s big for a famous athlete.
But the most important lesson Wade taught us was how to take one for the overall good of a team, sacrificing personal glory to allow the entire team to bask in triumph.
That’s what Wade did in 2010 when he helped lure his superstar friend LeBron James from Cleveland to Miami, pulling off the grand heist with a vision he shared with James and Chris Bosh: that if they united they would be unstoppable. And, for a while, they were.
Wade brought us the most talented player he could find, and instead of saying, “Hey, we’re enemies; we’re both fighting for the spotlight,” Wade embraced becoming a second banana, just so the Miami Heat, his team and its fans could rise to win the NBA Championship in 2012 and 2013, experiencing that magical ride that some consider the memory of a lifetime.
And here’s the hard part, Wade removed himself from the spotlight with no drama, no ego eruptions, no tantrums, no festering jealousy, no backstabbing. It’s called class.
Such generosity is not an easy thing for any competitive soul to pull off. Scores of basketball teams, football teams and rock bands have been destroyed by one member squawking for dominance over the rest.
Not Wade. He exhibited nothing but grace. Wade played his final regular-season home game, against the 76ers, at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday. A legendary NBA career that included three championships, an NBA Finals MVP award, 13 All-Star appearance is coming to an end.
The tributes have been pouring in, including this salute from Herald sports columnist Dan LeBatard:
“So thank you, Dwyane Wade.
For everything you represented while wearing our city’s name over your heart.
You carved a forever space on our sports landscape.
You left us better than you found us.
And sports relationships don’t get much better than that.”
We second the emotion.