Dwyane Wade has always spoken about the moment, the moment when everyone is watching, the moment when everything matters more. His career, now closer to conclusion than inception, has included so many moments that it will be a struggle to shrink them to 30 seconds for his eventual introduction as a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Three-time champion. NBA Finals MVP. All-Star Game MVP. And so on.
So, is there still time, at age 34, to make another moment?
There might be Sunday, as he makes his 11th appearance in an All-Star Game, after sitting out last February in New York because of a hamstring injury. If that makes you feel old, it does the same for him. As he noted Saturday, he will be the third-oldest player this time, younger only than the retiring Kobe Bryant (37) and Pau Gasol (35).
“As players, athletes sometimes are looked at as superheroes, sometimes even superhuman,” Wade said. “We look at athletes that way as well. Kobe was that for all of us. And now you see, this is the end. So then you start realizing it does come to an end at some point. There’s not 12 more of these.”
That’s why he says he’s having more fun at this one than any since his debut in Denver in 2005.
“Somewhere in between the 12, I probably lost my way a little bit, of it’s another one, it’s another one,” Wade said. “But now there’s not going to be too many more another ones.”
He has scored 173 points in 251 All-Star minutes while shooting 64.2 percent from the field and — as he pointed out Saturday — recording one of just three triple-doubles in All-Star history, joining Michael Jordan and LeBron James in 2011. He’s one of just six players in the 2016 All-Star Game who have won an All-Star Game MVP, along with Bryant (four), James (two), Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
It would be something, for sure, in light of the galaxy of critics who feel his star has faded, if he shined brightest of all Sunday, just for old time’s — and all old-timers — sake. Yet he didn’t suggest that he’s shooting for that.
“I wanted an All-Star MVP,” Wade said. “I’m not the guy that’s like, let me get five of them. Once I’ve done it, I’m cool with moving on from it.”
He had the desire twice, in 2007 in Las Vegas and 2010 in Dallas.
In Las Vegas, “I didn’t have it. I was like, ‘You know what, this is my moment.’ It didn’t happen.
He scored just 10 points, which still stands as his lowest output.
In Dallas on Valentine’s night 2010, he scored 28 points with six rebounds and 11 assists in an East victory to earn the award. That award is in his house, and Chris Paul — who has one of his own — was admiring it during the Clippers’ recent visit to Miami.
“It’s special,” Wade said. “Especially when you have friends who have one. I would love for [Carmelo Anthony] to get one, so we can all have these things in common to talk about. I know [Chris Bosh] tried to get the one in Dallas, but I was trying a little harder. So it’s cool to be able to be in conversations. You want to be a part of the rich history for sure.”
He already is, of course, according to former and current players.
Isiah Thomas called him “definitely the most accomplished player who has ever come out of the city of Chicago, and arguably the best player who has ever come out of the city.”
Soaring praise from one that city’s favorite sports sons. Thomas went further, calling Wade “the greatest leader of this generation in the NBA, the way he’s carried himself, the way he’s conducted himself,” noting that he knows how hard it is to take a franchise to a championship for the first time.
“They talk about Wade County and Miami; there’s very few people who have done for a city what he’s done for a city,” Thomas said. “We honor him, and we bow to him.”
Others emulate him, even as they challenge him. Like his backup in this game, Los Angeles native and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who watched him from Marquette to Miami, who admits he “stole the pump fake” from Wade, among other scoring-style elements, and still considers Wade his toughest cover.
“D-Wade is one of them guys I’ve had so much respect for,” DeRozan, 26, said. “Even when I was young, he always gave me a lot of advice, year after year of him seeing me grow as a player. That gave me a lot of confidence early on, to see someone you watched growing up give you insight on everything. … That’s my guy, him and Kobe.”
Bosh joked with Wade this weekend that one day, he’d get the “Kobe treatment,” the fawning treatment Bryant has received in Toronto. Wade disputed that.
“He’s humble,” Bosh quipped. “Or he’s faking it.”
Not time for that yet. Not quite. Dwyane Wade is starting another All-Star Game and, unlike Bryant, seems to have more years of life in his legs. Maybe on Sunday, he will even make another moment.