Under normal circumstances, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Dwyane Wade likely would have sat out the final game of the season against the Nets on Wednesday night at Barclays Center since the Heat were eliminated from the playoffs. But because it was the final game of his illustrious career, and buddies LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were in attendance, Wade was determined to play and capped his career with a triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 113-94 loss to the Nets.
The sellout crowd repeatedly chanted for him to come into the game and exulted whenever he scored. Asked if he could have scripted it any better, Wade said, “No, I couldn’t have. Coming in a game like this, a bit out of the playoffs, for myself, these are tough games to play when you’re not competing for anything. I’m not the kind of player that will come out and just shoot the ball every time.
“To be able to help my teammates definitely helped me out a lot, to hear everyone cheering for me, to be able to go out that way was pretty cool.”
Spoelstra praised the 37-year-old veteran of 16 seasons for the way he handled his farewell tour by coming off the bench most of the season rather than limit the development of younger players. “There haven’t been many successful guys that have done a retirement tour and been able to manage everything and strike a balance where it’s not only about you,” Spoelstra said. “Dwyane did that brilliantly.
“This was about the team. He was breathing life into young players, creating a new generation of Miami Heat players with our young guys that, with his guidance, they took on another level. I cherish that.”
Explaining why he thought this was the right time to retire, Wade said, “I’m happy with this season. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put ourselves in position to win enough games to be in the playoffs, but what I wanted for this season, I’m happy to say I completed that.
“It’s been great, and I’m thankful I can retire and be happy for my career and my work and everything I’ve been able to accomplish. So, I’m good with it.”
Earlier this season, Wade exchanged jerseys with Nets All-Star D’Angelo Russell, which coach Kenny Atkinson suggested was motivation for Russell to play rather than rest. “I know our guys are honored and excited to play in his last game here at Barclays,” Atkinson said. “The guy gets 30 points last night, and I love that he’s playing tonight. That says everything about him and the Heat organization. I’m sure that’s part of D’Angelo’s thinking: ‘Man, I want to be in this game.’ It’s great for the NBA, great for Barclays, and obviously great for Dwyane.”