When we think of Dirk Nowitzki, the first thing that comes to our mind is loyalty. 21 years with the same franchise is something that does not come around often, regardless of the sport. Loyalty is something that is hard to come by nowadays in sports.
The same can be said about Dwyane Wade’s loyalty to the game and players he played with. However, he displayed a different type of loyalty through each of his stops in the NBA. Wade’s first move away from the Heat was to his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. After spending a year with the Bulls, Wade reunited with his longtime friend LeBron James in Cleveland to pursue one last run at the title. This run was shortlived and Wade found himself traded back to the team he started his career with.
So how will we remember the legacy of Dwyane Wade? Will we remember him for being a part of one of the NBA’s best draft classes ever? Or will he be remembered as one of the best shooting guards to step on an NBA court?
Dwyane Wade to me will always be one of the ultimate winners the game has ever witnessed. My first memory of Wade was in the 2006 NBA Finals. The then 24-year-old Wade led his team to a comeback victory down 2-0 to win Miami’s first NBA Championship.
As a result, Wade became the fifth youngest player in NBA history at the time to capture NBA Finals MVP. He recorded the third highest scoring average by a player in his first NBA Finals with 34.7 points per game.
His performance in his first NBA Finals was spectacular and earned him the nickname “The Flash” from his teammate Shaquille O’Neal. As Wade single-handedly carried his team to 4 straight wins to beat the favored Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
What truly was incredibly about Wade’s career was his ability to transition gracefully through adversity. If we take a look at the duration of his career with what he has accomplished, it is no less than a first ballot Hall Of Fame worthy career.
After winning his first championship at such an early stage of his career, Wade had a string of unsuccessful playoff runs and dealt with lingering injuries. The next four seasons after the 2006 NBA Finals would be Wade’s best scoring stretch in his career.
However, with no championship in sight after trading the aging veteran Shaquille O’Neal. Wade was the lone superstar on the Heat and needed backup to get back deep into the playoffs again.
This is where Wade knew he the needed help of his all-star friends to go back to the promised land. Hence came the 2010 NBA free agency period where 2003 draft classmates LeBron James and Chris Bosh were both unrestricted free agents.
Wade worked his magic and convinced the two friends to come to join him in Miami and build a first-ever breed of a new kind of dynasty. They would call themselves “The Big Three” and go on to win back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. In addition, they went to the NBA Finals all 4 years together only losing in their first and last year together.
Being one of the key members of the “Big Three” allowed Wade to enter legendary status and further cement his legacy for the record books.
Wade showed during these years his willingness to win by initially taking a pay cut to allow the signing of James and Bosh. As well as passing on the team role as the number one option to his best friend LeBron James once James joined the team.
Dwyane was the ultimate superstar on and off the court and is beloved in his adopted hometown of Miami. Beyond being a 3-time NBA Champion, 2006 NBA Finals MVP, and 13-time All-Star, Wade has impacted the lives of many through his charitable works such as putting kids through college and helping families recover from natural disasters.
The Flash, as he was known on the court, scored a total of 23,165 career points. This might not be as impressive to his counterparts that he is compared to.
But the style and way in which he impacted the game is the reason why we put him in the conversation as the third best ever shooting guards behind the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Wade played hard on both ends of the court and would make numerous acrobatic shots to will his team to victory.
By all means, did the game not leave him. As he played a total of 72 games in his last season averaging 15.0 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. However, with nothing else to prove, it was time for Wade to leave the game on his terms with the ability to still get a bucket.
In his last home game ever, Wade was introduced by his son Zaire Wade with a video and in person.
“Nope, yall not about to make me cry before this game,” Wade said.
Thanks for the memories D-Wade, and continue to inspire us off the court. We look forward to seeing the next generation of the Wade family in the league soon.
The German-born, Nowitzki, spend his 21-year career with the Dallas Mavericks. Over the course of his career, the 7-footer enjoyed 14 all-star seasons and 1 MVP season in 2007, but his career was much more than the accolades and achievements.
Dirk’s lone championship and the Mavericks first and only championship in team history came in 2011. Dirk’s Mavs swept the defending champion, Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs and set the tone for the remainder of the postseason.
The Mavericks were set to face a then Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden Thunder team in the Western Conference Finals. Dirk and the Mavs took down the Thunder 4-2 and were set to face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
The Miami Heat’s season, led by LeBron James, ended in defeat to Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games. Dirk was named Finals MVP after averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds a game.
He was overwhelmingly the best player in the series and accomplished what every player sets out to do, win a championship. Dirk’s 2011 Finals performance was special but he accomplished much more than just a championship and ring in 2011.
A huge underdog entering the series, the Mavericks’ average age of their starting lineup was 31 years old, their second best player was a 33-year-old, Jason Terry. The Mavericks, on paper, were overmatched, yet they accomplish the unthinkable.
Dirk’s 2011 Dallas Mavericks’ team is and will be the last “non-super” team to win an NBA championship.
Aside from the highlight of Dirk’s career, he leaves the game as the best European born player to ever play. He finishes his career with 31,560 points scored, good for 6th all-time and most by a Dallas Mavericks player in franchise history.
However, the most impressive thing about Dirk’s career is that he was before his time. He was a 7-foot power forward, who could shoot like a shooting guard and handle the ball like a point guard. With the game of basketball evolving the way it is, Dirk is everything you look for nowadays.
The best 7-foot shooter in NBA history, with his iconic one-legged fadeaway, will forever be picture perfect.
While he never did announce 2019 would be his final season, we all knew. Dirk was never that spotlight, look at me guy. He flew under the radar and in his eyes didn’t need a farewell tour, but he sure deserved one. So to a future Hall of Famer, thank you for an amazing career.
The two legends shared a moment during the 2019 All-Star Game, as both were honorary All-Stars chosen by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. This was Wade’s 13th selection and Nowitzki’s 14th.
In his first four minutes of play during the All-Star game, Dirk was perfect from the field as he drained all three of his 3-point shots for Team Giannis. While Wade played over 10 minutes contributing 7 points for Team LeBron.
Wade had us reminiscing of the “Big Three” days when both he and LeBron shared an alley-oop play together during the All-Star Game for the last time on one of the NBA’s biggest stages.
With so much history together, it is only fitting that the two legends retire together after each beating one another in the NBA Finals when the other were the favorites to win it. Their legacies of the game have been well documented, but their impact in their communities has been what seems to mean the most to them as they walk out the door.