What to Know
- NBC 6's Adam Kuperstein breaks down the many things that led to Dwyane Wade's decision to leave the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls.
It’s all so confusing. How did we get here? How did the greatest player in Miami Heat history leave so abruptly after 13 unforgettable years?
Dwyane Wade called himself a #HeatLifer. He referred to the American Airlines Arena as “My House.” He and Pat Riley celebrated 3 championships together.
So while Wade will say that joining the Chicago Bulls is about "going home,” it’s actually much more than that.
This decision, and the emotion behind it, runs deep.
WAS THIS REALLY ABOUT A FEW MILLION DOLLARS?
No. The Heat reportedly offered around $41 million over 2 years. The Bulls are paying him $47 million. When you factor in the difference in state income tax, the Heat’s offer is around $3 million less. That may be a lot of money for you and me, but not for Wade. This is about principle and pride. Wade was offended that the Heat didn’t make him a priority during the Free Agency period (making offers to Hasan Whiteside and Kevin Durant first). He felt under-appreciated after all that he had done for the Heat. Once the damage was done, it would’ve taken more than money to fix it.
WHY DIDN’T THE HEAT JUST PAY HIM WHATEVER HE WANTED FROM THE START?
Because it would hurt their chances of winning more championships. The NBA has a salary cap, and so the more the Heat pay Wade in the future, the less they have to spend on other (younger) stars. Even if Wade had stayed with Miami, the Heat wouldn’t be legitimate championship contenders. Not in a league where teams like Golden State and Cleveland have multiple star players. Paying Wade for what he’s done in the past would handcuff the Heat for the future. Some teams do that anyway (see: Lakers and Kobe Bryant). But Pat Riley and the Heat are all about winning big, even if it means the risk of losing a fan favorite like Wade.
THIS IS LEBRON’S FAULT, ISN’T IT?
Not really. It’s clear that Lebron and Wade’s friendship comes before Wade’s loyalty to the Heat. That was obvious when Lebron left for Cleveland and Wade sided with his BFF. But I’m not buying that Lebron heavily influenced Wade’s departure. Dwyane makes his own decisions. He may consult his inner circle, but when making a decision that he says caused him to lose sleep (and weight because he couldn’t eat), Wade has to do what’s best for HIM. I think too highly of Wade to believe that Lebron determines how he feels about the Miami Heat.
IS THIS GOING TO RUIN WADE’S LEGACY IN MIAMI?
No way. Wade is at the top of the mountain in South Florida sports history. And despite the awkwardness of watching him in a Bulls uniform, all will be forgiven in the end. Not forgotten, but forgiven. Wade has given too much to this community and the fans here to ruin his legacy. The sad way he parted with the Heat will only be a footnote.
ARE THE HEAT GOING TO BE BAD NOW?
Well…this season could be rough. Especially if Chris Bosh doesn’t return because of his blood clot. But here’s the uncomfortable truth about losing D-Wade…
It might be a solid basketball decision in the long term. MIGHT. Wade is still a very good player, but he’s been on the decline for years and will turn 35 this season. With Wade gone, the Heat will now have the money to go after younger star free agents next summer (and beyond). The way Wade left may damage the Heat's reputation as a great “family” oriented organization, a team that takes care of it’s players, but star players care more about getting paid and having a chance to win a championship (and South Beach isn’t going away either). The Heat are not a contender now, but if their young players develop as they hope, adding an established star could put them back in the mix for the future. Think big picture. You know Pat Riley is.
SO WHO DO WE BLAME?
Everyone. Blame Wade for being a diva. The Heat for not showing him enough love. Riley for letting Lebron’s exit affect how he does business.
Emotions got in the way here. The Heat were reportedly uncomfortable with Wade’s loyalty to Lebron after he left Miami hanging in 2014. That’s understandable, and yet is it a smart way to do business? Wade felt that his service to the Heat and sacrifices over the years earned him more respect (and money). The Heat felt that Wade wasn’t worth what he was asking for. And you know what? They were both right. And while it feels wrong to see him go after 13 years, maybe it’s for the best. Hopefully Wade will feel more appreciated and hopefully the Heat can rebuild around their young players and become a contender again. But until we get there, these hard feelings are going to linger. For a while.