After scoring 30 points Tuesday in his final home game for the Miami Heat, both Dwyane Wade and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra were unsure just how much Wade would have in the tank in his final game ever against the Brooklyn Nets.
The answer was more than enough.
In front of friends LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Mike Miller, Wade recorded the fifth triple-double of his NBA career with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He picked up his 10th assist after fellow Heat legend Udonis Haslem knocked home a 19-foot jumper. It was Wade’s first triple double since February 4, 2011, when he recorded 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 109-97 Heat win over the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets).
During his last game, Wade was battling a knee injury that he sustained when he fell off the scorer’s table during his last game in Miami. Even with pregame treatment, Wade was still unsure whether or not he would be able to play. Spoelstra and the Heat were expected to limit Wade’s minutes to some degree, but the 37-year-old Wade actually ended up playing more minutes in Brooklyn (36) than he did in Miami (35) the previous night.
Overall, Wade shot 28 times in the game, including 13 attempts from three-point range. The Heat ended up losing the game to Brooklyn 113-94, and Wade said after the game he didn’t like how often he shot the ball while he was on the floor:
“I don’t like shooting every time down,” Wade said during an on-court interview with Jason Jackson of Fox Sports Sun after the game. “That’s not the way I play. I was so uncomfortable tonight taking that many random shots. … I like playing a competitive game, so this is not the kind of game I wanted to play in.
“But to be able to go out here and understand that my last game, I wanted it to be about my teammates as much as possible. To be able to pass the ball, get the triple-double and all those things.
“So I accomplished that.”
With the triple-double, Wade became the second Heat player to record such a feat this season, joining point guard Goran Dragic, who had 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in a March 28 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press notes that Wade is oldest player in NBA history to post a triple-double in the last game of a season.
Considering the relationship between the two, it was essentially a Hollywood ending for Haslem to be the one that clinched the triple-double for his good friend Wade. Spoelstra made sure he found time for Haslem and Wade to share the court during the final Miami game, and guaranteed the two would play together when he made the decision to put Haslem and Wade in the starting lineup together for the first time since April 13, 2015 against the Orlando Magic.
“For me, I wanted to make that night memorable for him,” Haslem said. “What other way than to be the guy that knocked down that last shot to give him the triple-double. I swear when I shot the ball, it felt like a game winner. I felt the pressure, I felt the pressure of a game-winning shot.
“I was happy I was able to come through for him. He’s come through for me in so many different situations. [It was] probably the best way I could end it for him.”
As Wade signs off on his retirement papers, Haslem could very well also make the decision to hang up his sneakers. The belief earlier this season was that Haslem and Wade would both retire together at the end of the season, but Haslem revealed that he was starting to have doubts about this officially being the end for him. Regardless, a resolution on Haslem’s decision will take a fair share of time. One thing that is for certain; the Heat want him back in 2019-2020:
“He sacrificed as much as anybody, obviously. But UD can still play. He still can. We see it all the time in practices,” Spoelstra said. “We have a bunch of young bigs that he’s really taken on ownership to mentor and to help develop and everything.”
Back to Wade, there were some real doubts when it came to how this season was going to play out for him. He didn’t officially announce he was coming back until late-September, and eventually knew at some point he was going to have to miss a significant games for the birth of his daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade. Even with all that went on, Wade still played incredible for a player in his last season.
As a special addition to the 2018-2019 NBA All-Star Game by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Wade finished his final season in the league with averages of 15.0 points, 4.2 assists, an 4.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 43% from the field, and 33% from three-point land. Per Basketball-Reference’s Hall of Fame Probability list, Wade is a lock for first-ballot induction when he becomes eligible.
Photo: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press