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Dwyane Wade moved by outpouring from Garden fans

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to a video tribute shown by the Knicks during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2019. Credit: Brad Penner

When the game was over and the cheers were still ringing throughout Madison Square Garden, Dwyane Wade remained on the court soaking it in. 

The sound had started even before he got in the game, the Garden crowded with Wade fans rising for a standing ovation as soon as he made the walk from the bench to the scorer’s table for the first time. And it continued every time he touched the ball or came into the game, and it wasn’t about to stop just because the final time he would play at the Garden was over.

“I’ll be here I’m sure a few other times in my life,” Wade said after scoring 16 points in the Heat's 100-92 win over the Knicks. “But as a player, it’s your last time and you just want to enjoy it. The fans stayed around and that was so cool, to be able to have that. You expect that at home maybe your last time, but on the road you don’t expect it. So for me it was great. I wish I got more time to spend with everybody, but it was a little chaotic. But it was real cool.”

“I’ve learned more from him than he has from me, for sure,” said Knicks coach David Fizdale, who served as a longtime Heat assistant coach. “He’s one of those guys that when he says he’s your friend, he’s going to be there for you. He’s been there for me every step of the way. All of the tributes are well deserved. He is one of the greatest guards that has ever played this game.”

Wade’s two appearances at the Garden during his farewell tour have been events. In January, longtime friend Carmelo Anthony took a seat in the front row near the Miami bench to honor him, and when the game was over, Wade exchanged jerseys with Tim Hardaway Jr., whom he had known for a long time. 

This time it wasn’t about celebrities — although Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in the front row for it. The arena was filled with fans chanting his name and adorned in Heat jerseys.

“For the most part, besides the first year of the Big Three, I’ve always got a good reception,” Wade said. “This is on another level. This is off the charts. You don’t know what to expect. Obviously, when I announced, when I asked my fans to join me for one last dance, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it would be a cool experience, but I didn’t know it would be this. To me, there’s no better way for me individually to go out.

“I thought about it. But I had no idea. I couldn’t imagine it to be like this. It’s been special. Especially as it’s been getting to the end, from the All-Star break on, it’s been something out of a movie script for me. Obviously, I’ve built and been able to create a brand of Dwyane Wade and a winner and all these things.

"I can remember back not too long ago when people didn’t know who I was and people never gave me a chance. I worked my butt off to get here. To look up there, in the crowd, to hear the chants, to be able to still perform and go out this way, if you asked me to write it, to write your greatest novel in your last year, I wouldn’t have been able to create it this way.”

Wade said  the first time he played here was while he still was in college and that he has gone through the wars here against the Knicks. But this was something different.

“It felt like the twilight zone out there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t know about any of you, but it definitely did. I’m still of the old Pat Riley generation. When it was Heat vs. Knicks, [Jeff] Van Gundy and all them on the other side. To hear all the cheers and the ‘let’s go Heat.’ It just feels strange. But that’s the impact of a Hall of Fame player, and I’m glad he’s on our side.

“Very few times in this profession do you get an opportunity to coach someone for that long and also have time away from each other. There was a year and a half where I did not coach him. Both of us gained different perspectives. When he came back, this year and a half has been the most enjoyable of all of my years with Dwyane.”

New York Sports