(WSVN) - Long before his legacy was sealed, back 16 years ago, he was the fifth pick in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft.
David Stern, former NBA Commissioner (at 2003 NBA Draft): “The Miami Heat select Dwyane Wade from Marquette University.”
A 21-year-old kid from Chicago headed south to play professional basketball in Miami.
Dwyane Wade (at the 2003 NBA Draft): “I’ve been in the cold all my life, so now I get to come out here to some heat.”
Dwyane Wade would get his first taste of the playoffs in his rookie season, before Shaquille O’Neal’s arrival in 2004 launched the Heat into contention and landed young Dwyane a nickname.
Shaquille O’Neal, former Heat center: “He was fast. I was Superman, and I needed another superhero with me, so I named him Flash.”
Superman, Flash and friends blasted their way to the 2006 NBA Finals, where Wade put up two 40-plus point performances — lifting the franchise to its first championship.
Dwyane Wade (after 2006 NBA Finals): “I don’t want to say I put this team on my back. You know, we did it together.”
Injuries and a couple of rough seasons followed.
Then came 2010 NBA Free Agency and the summer that changed everything.
2003 draft-mates LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Wade in Miami to form the “Big Three.”
But the super-team fell short of the ultimate prize, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Dwyane Wade (after 2011 NBA Finals): “We ran into a team that this time was obviously better than us.”
But “The Heatles” struck back a year later against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Then made it back-to-back titles — beating the San Antonio Spurs in epic fashion.
Dwyane Wade (after 2013 NBA Finals): “This one right here is the sweetest one, man.”
After the Spurs ended the Big Three’s chances at a three-peat in 2014, LeBron went home to Cleveland.
Recurring blood clots later ended Chris Bosh’s basketball career, and in 2016, Dwyane Wade left Miami in free agency.
Dwyane Wade (after signing with the Chicago Bulls in 2016): “This is never goodbye to South Florida.”
After one season with his hometown Chicago Bulls and a forgettable stint with the Cavaliers, Wade was unexpectedly traded back to the Heat.
The “Wade” in “Miami-Wade County” was restored. This time for good.
Dwyane Wade (after returning to the Miami Heat): “I’m going to stay here until I decide to hang it up.”
Before the 2018-19 season opened, “Father Prime” made it official. His 16th NBA season would be his last.
Dwyane Wade (in video announcing last season): “Join me for one last dance.”
And what a dance it has been.
Jersey exchanges, rock star road games and a 13th NBA All-Star appearance.
Dwyane Wade (at 2019 NBA All-Star Game): “It was amazing. Thirteen All-Star appearances. Who am I to complain? Life is good.”
For Dwyane Wade, life has always been bigger than basketball.
Wade told 7News that there was no wavering on his decision to retire.
Dwyane Wade: “I’m at the point where I think about not playing more than I think about playing.”
Dwyane Wade’s body of basketball work speaks for itself: three-time NBA Champion, 2006 NBA Finals MVP, 2009 NBA scoring title. 13-time NBA All-Star, two-time Olympic medalist, and the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in points, assists and steals, just to name a few.
Dwyane Wade: “I’ve always wanted to be respected for what I bring to the game, and also I always wanted to be known as a winner.”
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