Dwayne Wade’s final home game was memorable for countless reasons.
All of his children were there. Former President Barack Obama sent a video, one of many tributes. Fans came early and stayed late, chanting his name. His wife slapped his backside in recognition of his making a 3-pointer. He crashed into John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, dousing them with a beverage. He slipped twice as he tried to make his signature leap onto a courtside table postgame.
He scored 30 points. And the Miami Heat won, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 122-99.
Wade has played his last game in Miami, and on Wednesday will play his last game in the NBA when the Heat close this season in Brooklyn. There’s no playoff appearance awaiting, no last postseason waltz to cap this season-long “One Last Dance” of his. He wakes up Wednesday as a basketball player for the final time. He wakes up Thursday as a retired basketball player.
“It’s like everything I’ve done has led up to this moment,” Wade said. “It’s like, all a body of work, all the injuries, all the surgeries, all the tough times. It led up to this moment. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my last game in this arena, to my last season.”
After 16 seasons as an NBA player, after three championships, an almost-annual spot in the All-Star Game, a scoring title, three franchises, four children, an Olympic gold medal and 161 teammates, the end is here. He is ready for whatever comes next.
“Hopefully, I created enough for this state, for the city, for the fans here, for the young kids here,” Wade said. “Hopefully, I can continue to be an inspiration for them, (after) being an individual who wasn’t given everything, who the odds were stacked against. Even when I made it to the NBA, still had odds stacked against me. But I continued to believe in myself. I continued to put my head down and worked.”