| The NBA pays tribute to Wade,
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade’s “One Last Dance” final NBA season was filled with jersey swaps, video tributes, autograph sessions and countless memorable moments.
Along the way, everyone from NBA commissioner Adam Silver to opposing coaches and star players expressed what they’ll remember most from Wade’s stellar 16-year career.
Los Angeles Lakers forward, former Heat teammate LeBron James: “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game. We’re going to miss Flash. We’re going to miss him in this league — that’s for sure. Seeing him be able to go off on his own terms, say when he’s done and nobody forced him out or did anything of that nature. He’s able to just hang it up when he was ready to hang it up and be at peace with it also — that’s real sweet.”
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul: “D-Wade, I mean he is a brother to me. Everything, from the injury he had, we all went to Chicago and worked out with him, to my wedding, his wedding, birth of our kids. We say it all the time, but we’re not just NBA friends. There’s a lot of guys in this league that are just teammates or NBA friends. But we all are a lot closer than that.”
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant: “He’s done so much for the game. He’s such an amazing player and person. I’ve been watching him since middle school, and this is one crazy way to go out with an ending like [Wade’s miraculous 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 126-125 stunner over the Warriors on Feb. 27].”
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry: “There’s something special about what he did [Feb. 27]. I’d much rather see him jumping on the scorer’s table when we’re not playing against him. What he’s done for this city is amazing and I know how much Miami loves him.”
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: “He certainly is an iconic figure as far as NBA basketball goes. It’s not just because the way he played — he played hard, he played to win, he had a ferocious attitude on the court — but it was matched by a wonderful smile and a great understanding of world and community off the court. And that’s what made him so special.”
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki: “After ‘06, we had some frosty times, but I
think that’s way behind us. I always say he pushed me to become the player in ‘11 to ultimately win. There was some things said after the ‘06 Finals, and both sides in ‘11. There were some times when we didn’t speak much, but like I said, I always watched from afar and he’s one of the best two-guards to ever play the game.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver: “Dwyane, this season has embodied what a great champion and ambassador of the game you are. From the way fans at every arena celebrated you to the players of every generation swapped jerseys, it’s always incredible to see how the young fans and players look up to you. On behalf of the NBA family, thank you. I look forward to seeing you in [the Hall of Fame].”
Philadelphia 76ers forward, former Bulls teammate and fellow Marquette grad Jimmy Butler from Wade’s home finale: “That was special to see my brother
get as much love as he deserves. He’s one of the greatest to play this game. I’m just so happy he gets to go out on his terms. He’s happy, he’s healthy and he had the whole city behind him.”
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George: “What D-Wade has been in this league is just one of the best performers, most creative players in our era right now. His creativity with the Euro-step, with up-and-unders, I think he’s one of the best minds in basketball.”
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal: “He’s part of the reason that I wear No. 3. For the first time, I told him that [during the Jan. 4 jersey swap]. I’ve never told him that in all the years that I have played against him. It means a lot to me to be able to have his jersey because he has three championships, he’s one of the best two guards to ever play and I’m happy that I was able to compete against him for seven years.”
Boston Celtics forward/center Al Horford: “He’s a winner. That’s what I’m going to remember about him. How competitive he is. Just how he imposed his will on games, taking over on the defensive end, on the offensive end. That’s something that I’ve always admired about him.”
Los Angeles Clippers coach and fellow Marquette grad Doc Rivers: “Secondbest player in Marquette history,” he joked. “I have a lot with D-Wade because I’ve known him long before he got to the pros. I almost thought we had him in Orlando. He means a lot in a lot of ways. Off the floor, to me, is where he’s stood out more. It’s amazing. As good as he’s been as a player, and he’s been a Hall of Fame [player], he just sets such a great example of how to connect yourself off the floor. I would like to say it’s the Marquette education, but I don’t think that’s it. I just think it’s who he is.”
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons from Wade’s home finale: “He’s a legend. So for me just watching him grow up meant a lot to be able to compete against him, especially in his final home game. That was an amazing experience for me.”
Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center and former teammate Channing Frye: “He’s so crafty, everyone knows he’s going left and he still goes left and then you think just because he hobbles around the court that he can’t block shots and suddenly he has five at the end of the game. Always been a winner. I watched him play at Marquette shockingly and was like, ‘Who is this dude?’ ”
New York Knicks coach and former Heat assistant David Fizdale: “I’ve learned more from him than he has from me. He’s one of those guys that, when he says he’s your friend, he’s going to be there for you, and he’s been there for me every step of the way. … He’s one of the greatest guards to play this game.”
Memphis Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley, who had hard-fought series with Wade as a member of the Celtics: “He’s always been one of my favorite players. I never told him that, of course, going up against him. The game’s going to miss him. Wish he could continue to play forever.”
New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: “I think the No. 1 thing that no one really talks about with him is how he was willing to take a step back and make that LeBron’s team. There’s a lot of star players that wouldn’t even consider doing that, and that shows me that winning is the most important thing for him and he’s willing to sacrifice his game for the betterment of the team and the franchise. You admire guys like that as a coach.”
Heat guard Dwyane Wade scores over the Wizards’ Kevin Seraphin during a game in February 2011 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Wade celebrates the NBA championship with his sons Zaire and Zion in June 2013.
Wade skies toward the rim during a 2006 NBA playoff games against the Bulls.
Wade makes an angry face after hitting a 3-pointer against the Mavericks during the 2011 Finals.
Wade was the fifth overall pick by the Heat in the 2003 NBA draft.