Dwyane Wade wasn’t about to ‘break any news’ regarding his future in Philadelphia.
“Of course, y’all know I’ve given it thought,” Wade said. “This is Philly and I love Philly, but there ain’t gonna be no breaking news here. I appreciate y’all’s concern, but we’ll worry about that later. I ain’t gonna break nothing here.”
The possibility remains that Wade may have played his final game in a Heat jersey, or any NBA uniform for that matter, on Tuesday night when the 76ers handed Miami a 104-91 loss to clinch victory in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
It doesn’t seem Wade is in any hurry to decide.
“One thing I’m not worried about is that,” Wade said. “That’s not my focus. Fresh off the NBA season, my 15th year, I’ll sit back and think about that. Then, I’ll dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list of making sure I’m there for them. Then when it comes to the basketball side of it, which is a long time away from now then I’ll think about that. But right now I ain’t concerned with it.”
Regardless of what he decides, Wade proved that at 36 years old, he could still be a productive NBA player.
Wade, a three-time NBA champion during the first 13 seasons of his career in Miami, took on the role of a contributor off the bench after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 8.
After scoring only three points in his first game back, Wade delivered a vintage performance against the Heat’s eventual playoff opponent on Feb. 27 scoring 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to secure a one-point victory.
“He knew what the deal was,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were already kind of set with our rotation. It was one the first thing he said, ‘I don’t want to disrupt anything. I'll come off the bench. I'll play with the second unit and we'll make this work. Don't worry about me.’ That's awesome. There's probably not a lot of Hall of Fame players his age or who still has his ability to have those moments that would still be willing to do that.”
Wade averaged 12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 22.3 minutes per game during the final 21 games of the regular season to help the Heat makes the playoffs.
“I loved [the way he fit in],” Spoelstra said. “Each day he's been back I've just been trying to enjoy it. I didn't think that this would happen this year. I thought maybe that this would be one of those situations down the line maybe, a ceremonial signing to have him back. Then when it happened so quickly he fit right in and it just speaks to his humility. He said it in one of our first team meetings that he was grateful for all the guys to open up their arms and welcome him back to this team. And the guys were saying this is your franchise. He has that kind of awareness and humility and he didn't want to step in and step on somebody else's role. He just wanted to fit in and be one of the guys.”
Wade delivered another clutch performance in Game 2 when he scored 28 points to help Miami secure its lone victory of the series.
Wade, who also scored 25 in Game 4, averaged 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists and shot 44.3 percent from the field during the fives games of the series.
“I’m always blown away by Dwyane Wade,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said prior to Game 5. “I mean, I look at Manu [Ginobili] the other night like ridiculous stuff and you look at what Dwyane is doing here and you think, ‘When are they done? When are they done?’ They just seem never to go away. There’s a pace and poise that he plays with and there’s a presence and a class and he just is somebody that I incredibly respect.”
Wade couldn't finish with another heroic effort Tuesday, finishing with 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting and finished with five rebounds and five assists.
But his return to the franchise that drafted him was a fun and impactful one regardless.
“Coming into this year and not knowing how this year was going to play out at all, starting the season in Chicago then moving to Cleveland and ending in Miami, I couldn’t ask for a better ending to it,” Wade said. “I was like a kid my whole time back, just happy and thrilled to be back and be around these individuals on my team and getting the chance to be in the trenches with them.
“To be here, to be back, to be a part of that, to be a part of leading not only by voice but leading by example, laying it all out on the line with these guys, I felt good about that. I felt good about the Miami Heat whole organization and its future and the kind of players and the kind of people that are in that locker room and in the organization. I was thankful that I could come back and be a part of that.”
Spoelstra said Tuesday he didn’t even want to think of the possibility of Wade retiring.
“I don't even want to go there,” Spoelstra said. “You're going to make me emotional if we start to think about that or talk about that right now. To do what he did as a Hall of Famer, I've coached him as a leading scorer in the league, as a champion in this league where he had to take a secondary role to the best player in the league. I've coached him now in this role now that I think none of us would have ever imagined in Wade would be coming off the bench. But he's handled all of these roles with incredible class and dignity. He can play this role forever. I don't know if he will choose to do that. But also again it speaks to his character and his humility that he would be willing to take on a role like this.”