Dave George: Dwyane Wade is back where he belongs in Miami


It wasn’t all fantasy Friday morning, as Dwyane Wade moved about AmericanAirlines Arena on a reunion tour with Miami Heat coaches and players and a roomful of South Florida media members who see in him a bloom of beautiful headlines past and present and hopefully future.

There were a few sprinkles of reality, too, of truths that were not emphasized when the franchise’s favorite son, newly acquired in a trade deadline shocker, took the court later Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

First there were the glasses on Wade’s face during his opening interview. They’re not just a fashion statement anymore, as it was in Miami’s Big Three run of NBA Finals appearances, when players often met the press postgame wearing eyeglasses without lenses in them because it was ironic and just plain fun.

“It’s a product of being 36,” Wade said with a laugh. “I had to get glasses, so I decided to pick some nice frames so all my glasses now have prescriptions in them. I’ve been fighting it for a while. One thing it does is help with my headaches, so I’m not always squinting.”

OK, so perfect vision isn’t forever. What about perfect pitch when it comes to hitting just the right note in late-game situations? Drawing fouls with fearless drives. Leaning back to hit an 18-footer at the buzzer. Closing the show, as only a certain Hall of Famer can do.

Wade said Friday “I’m not afraid of any moment,” knowing full well that a sellout crowd was waiting to shout out its faith in his unwavering fearlessness.

Then, however, he added that when it comes to all the old fourth-quarter instincts and expectations, “You go out there and play your game, and you use your teammates and you go from there. If I’m in that position on this team, I’ll try to deliver as I have before and if I don’t, sorry.”

Even heroes have doubts, and that’s good. It makes them more human. It makes it possible for some fans to accept that Wade won’t always save the day for this hardscrabble Heat team, and that on his first night back, coach Erik Spoelstra decided that the Heat’s all-time leader in every important offensive category needed to ease his way back into the lineup rather than starting right away.

There always will be others, of course, who not only want Wade to come back but want him to bring LeBron James along, too. Hey, when the crazy day comes that Wade is back in a Heat uniform, almost any old dream seems within reach.

Read the following quote from Wade, and recognize that it actually started a small social media circus Friday based on the misplaced notion that LeBron might have the same kind of itch to return to Miami in this summer’s annual free-agency follies.

“I think LeBron saw that I watched Miami closely all the time,” Wade said of his former Cleveland teammate. “If I was watching something, he would say, ‘What you doing?’ I’d say, ‘Checking the Miami score and different things like that.’

“You appreciate things a little bit more when you’re away from it. Probably him, as well, and me, too, just appreciate the times and moments we had. You don’t like to be in other place and other environments always saying ‘Hey, remember when we were in Miami?’ We definitely had those conversations with each other about some of the things we did and how it was done and why it was done.”

The underlying thought is that Miami’s organization is different, and nobody tries to deny that. Just don’t expect LeBron to bend to Pat Riley’s will, or to wish for a return that would necessarily strip the Heat of all its supporting cast in the name of salary math.

Wade isn’t in that class. He’s here because the Heat didn’t have to give more than a second-round pick in 2024, and because the Cavs were going to ask him to reduce his minutes even further, and because LeBron wanted to help his buddy find a soft landing. It’s a happy ending to a story that got all fuzzy with Wade playing in Chicago and Cleveland the last season-and-a-half. Let’s enjoy it as it is, and let Wade enjoy being loved again.

“My eyes and heart were always here,” said Wade, who after 13 seasons with the Heat left in free agency in 2016 because Riley didn’t make him a free-agency priority. “I had a different zip code and jersey on my body, but who I am in the core, deep down inside, I was always here.”

Being here means being back in the Heat culture, which led Riley to joke with Wade in a Thursday night text, “You just ate your last meal of pancakes with syrup and with whipped cream and strawberries on top. We’re back to veggies.”

Dwyane didn’t need to hear that. As soon as the trade details were explained to him and before leaving Cleveland, he shared one last meal with LeBron.

“So I said, ‘Well, since it finally happened and I’m going to Miami, let’s go have this last bad lunch,” Wade told LeBron, “because I’ve got to do body fat (testing) tomorrow. Let me go enjoy this food.’ “

It’s going to be different all right, from every angle but this one.

Wade, the sure-fire Hall of Famer who reworked his game and his role to win a couple of titles with The Big Three, shared nobody’s spotlight Friday, and he never will again in Miami as long as he cares to take the risks that come with hearing all those glorious homecoming cheers.



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