CHICAGO – He had attempted everything, the art of self-deception and public declarations, and yet nothing prepared Dwyane Wade for the moment. Game on the line, ball in Wade’s hands, inside the United Center. It was like he was back on those old courts on the South Side here, and he delivered a playground follow-through pose, an unhinged glare to onlookers and his most clutch shot with the Bulls.
The sweltering aftermath of his Miami Heat career loomed with Wade’s fourth 3-pointer in the Bulls’ 105-99 win over Boston, and he toured the court with family and friends, fans and cameramen. “Homecoming,” he told them. An improbable scenario – his parents and family members at the Bulls’ season opener – turned into a forever night, sealing the memory bank.
“I closed the Miami chapter right there,” Wade told The Vertical inside an empty locker room late Thursday.
“I can’t focus over there anymore. I want those guys in Miami to be successful, but I’m motivated by greatness here. I’m motivated by doing what people think I can’t do, for sure. I had to make a decision, and I feel good about the decision I made.
“A lot of emotions hit me when I made that shot. I’m not here because I’m angry at [Pat Riley] or the Heat. There’s no anger. I’m happy because I got the freedom to look elsewhere. I got to look at home.”
In truth, the Heat allotted Wade the opportunity to abandon them with a failure even people around Wade acknowledge. The Heat needed to come with an aggressive offer in July, a near-maximum deal to discourage their franchise cornerstone from considering the possibility of a union elsewhere. Instead, Miami exhibited content behaviors, fixated on a backcourt core of Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson and locked center Hassan Whiteside into a maximum contract. Yes, no such offer awaited Wade – no award for his 13 seasons.
Wade has family everywhere at home now, arena promotions geared around him. And the perfect storm played out on Thursday: lost ball, found in Wade’s hands, step back and a late 3-pointer to close a win against an Eastern Conference rival. Wade was set loose here, running the court end-to-end postgame, palpable exuberance all over.
“Like seeing a kid out there,” said Taj Gibson, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Wade had left Miami dissected as a poor 3-point shooter, mocked for his range. Now? “I’m the No. 1 3-point shooter in the league if I can shoot [4 of 6] every game,” he joked. “I’m just going to let it fly.” [/restrict]