For Dwyane Wade, his career will be defined by two numbers – the first being the No. 3, representing the jersey number he wore for nearly 15 seasons with the Miami Heat, a tenure that included three NBA titles, a Finals MVP award, countless All-NBA teams and more in a career that will certainly end in the Hall of Fame.
The second number – five, representing Wade being the fifth player in Heat history to have his number raised to the rafters during an epic and emotional ceremony Saturday during halftime of the team’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Flanked by his family in friends – from his mother JoLinda, his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, and the family’s children – Wade couldn’t help but get emotional with the first moment honoring his legendary career in professional basketball.
“I hope their memories are of someone who gave everything he had,” Wade said after the ceremony. “Someone who was unselfish, someone who did it the right way. His way.”
Wade, who retired after the 2018-19 season, joins the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Bosh in seeing their numbers in the rafters after helping to win a championship for the franchise – but Wade’s moment means more to the diehard fans that waited hours to get inside for the event.
“He’s an amazing athlete. As soon as he came to Miami, he made an instant impact on our community,” said Britnay Palmero, a Miami native who spoke with NBC 6 before the game. “Just to see them retire his jersey, it’s an amazing opportunity to see that.”
Drafted fourth overall in 2003, Wade became an instant star in helping the Heat bring home their first title in 2006. Years later, he became a fan favorite when he stayed and was joined by Bosh and LeBron James as the “Big Three” led the Heat to four straight NBA Finals – winning back to back titles in 2012 and 2013.
The former Marquette star – who had his college number retired after leading the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four – was a 13 time all star and the league’s scoring champion in 2009. Even after leaving for two seasons with his hometown Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, D-Wade was always all about the 305.
“This is about me for sure, but this is about all of us at the same time,” Wade said. “City of Miami, teammates over the years, everyone who sacrificed.”