NBA Draft

Former teammates chronicle Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat ride

MIAMI — On Saturday night in Springfield, Mass., Dwyane Wade will attempt to sum up a career in a matter of minutes during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But for the Miami Heat icon, there was more than a single chapter of his life, even of his basketball life.

Over the past two weeks, as former teammates passed through South Florida, they attempted to encapsulate the Wade experience, each offering specific perspective from Wade’s 2003 debut to his 2019 farewell.

The rising

Gary Payton already had played with his share of stars, from Shawn Kemp to Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal before he arrived in Miami at the start of 2005-06.

By then, Wade was two years into his NBA career, emerging as a whirlwind of scoring and leadership.

Payton jumped aboard in time for the Heat’s Wade-led run to the 2006 NBA title.

“I saw a special guy, you know what I’m saying?” the Hall of Fame guard said during the Big3’s recent appearance at Kaseya Center, with Payton, 55, now a coach in Ice Cube’s halfcourt weekend league. “Let me tell you when I really saw when he was really, really good was that championship (series) when he averaged 35 points. And I went to Shaq and I said, ‘Hey, Shaq, this young kid right here we’ve got to put him on our back and you just got to take a second fiddle to him right now. We’re older. We have to let this kid do it.’

“And that’s why (O’Neal) called him The Flash, because he was doing special things and we saw special stuff in him. And we just had to let it go. And he showed it year after year after that.

“I watched him the year before that, when they got beat by Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals and he was doing the same thing. I just said he needed somebody around him. And that’s what he got, he got players around that were around him to let him be the man.”

The retool

From the heights of that 2006 Wade fueled championship was a Heat drop all the way to 15-67 in 2007-08.

Then came the 2008 NBA draft when forward Michael Beasley and guard Mario Chalmers were added, with only Chalmers still around after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Wade to form a Big Three in 2010 that would go on to make four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and win titles in 2012 and ’13.

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