It felt inevitable all along. When it happened Thursday, unexpectedly, it felt instantly right.
Welcome home, Dwyane Wade.
Welcome back to the Miami Heat, where you spent 13 seasons and helped win three NBA championships as the greatest and most beloved player in franchise annals — maybe in all of South Florida sports history, above even Dan Marino.
Some news breaks like hearts do. This news broke like a piñata at a party, causing cheers and smiles all over town.
The Heat beat Thursday’s league trade deadline by dealing a conditional second-round draft pick to Cleveland for Wade as the Cavaliers spent the day detonating their roster in anticipation of a major reboot and LeBron James’ departure in free agency this summer.
Wade never fit or seemed happy in his one season in Chicago, even though he was born there.
He never looked right in a Cleveland uniform, even though it meant a reunion with his close buddy LeBron.
He will look just right back in Miami, back in that No. 3 jersey he wore so well.
The trade is partly ceremonial and sentimental, yes. It is wrapped in nostalgia. Wade is 36 now, after all. His best days are past, as even he would admit. In Cleveland he came off the bench. His name remains a superstar in a way his game no longer does.
But this trade also is about basketball as the Heat — now seventh in the race for eight East playoff spots after five consecutive losses — tries to solidify its position and, it hopes, climb back into the top four to secure home-court advantage in the postseason’s first round. Wade is averaging a career-low 11.2 points due to his reserve’s role with the Cavs, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will find ways to use him strategically. Wade can still create his own shot, and the team needed help at shooting guard with Dion Waiters out. Wade will help make up for Miami’s weaknesses in end-of-game situations.
You know he will be keenly motivated to show the fans who love him most that his tank is not empty, that he can still be Dwyane Wade. He also will be a positive presence in the locker room, the imprimatur of “Heat culture.”
I would also note that Wade is shooting .455 from the floor (better than All-Star Goran Dragic) and is shooting .329 from three-point range, not great, but a career high. He can still bring it.
You knew the reunion would eventually happen. Wade stated out loud he wished to end his career where he started it. And the Heat wanted it, too, after Wade left two years ago in a contract dispute in a way that had more acrimony than either side ever wanted. The only question was how and when the reunion would happen. It could very easily have been two years from now with a ceremonial one-day contract. I’m glad it is happening on the court, so Wade can feel the love and appreciation that he deserves and that Miami fans want very much to give him.
This is mending of fences, a mending of hearts, as much as it is a basketball trade.
Even LeBron was happy to see Wade get the homecoming he wanted, writing on Instagram, “Truly happy for my brother @DwyaneWade!! It’s how it’s suppose to be. Love you my guy!! #WadeCountyBack.”
James put it just right about this player being back in this uniform, back home again.
It’s how it’s supposed to be.