On Monday night, Dwyane Wade played his last game of professional basketball. He scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. It would be the fifth triple-double of his illustrious career and the last. As you can imagine, the basketball world supplied an outpouring of love towards Wade, the perennial Hall of Famer calling it quits after 16 years. The vast majority of this career was spent with the Heat in Miami, to the point where he even had a county briefly renamed after him. But he didn’t spend his whole career there. He signed a two-year, $47 million contract in 2016 with the Chicago Bulls. There were those critical of the decision, but for the most part, it felt special for Chicago fans. As the league bids farewell, we reflect on Dwyane Wade’s homecoming.
Dwyane Wade’s Homecoming: A Reflection
There is not much more Chicago fans love than being represented by one of their own. Hearing “FROM CHICAGOOOOO” is enough to give any Bulls fans chills, and when it’s for a player of Wade’s stature, they become fiercely loyal. Plus, in the season following the loss of prodigal son Derrick Rose, there was some solace in the fact they could be lead by one of their own. So while it may have been sad to see Miami’s greatest player sign with another team, watching him play for his home team was a special story.
Wade’s return to Chicago was not without controversy, with a number of issues arising throughout the season. To begin with, there were many that believed that the contract the Bulls gave him was excessive. To compound this, the Bulls also signed Rajon Rondo, traded Rose and made Jimmy Butler a larger focal point. This era of the so-called ‘Three Alphas’ encountered numerous problems, be it the complete lack of three-point shooting, or the questionable team building techniques. This came to a head during (ironically) a game against the Heat, which saw Wade and Butler come off the bench as a disciplinary measure. This was following comments they both made regarding the effort of the team. However, these season struggles ultimately made the end of the season even more exciting.
So Close Yet So Far
The Bulls scrapped into the playoffs in the eighth seed that season, coming up against the top-seeded Boston Celtics. Surprisingly, Chicago won the first two games and had it not been for an injury to Rondo, they would have stood a good chance to win the series. During this series, Wade averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 32 minutes, helping to push the Easts’ top team to six games. However, the Bulls ultimately fell short, ending a bizarre and somewhat disappointing season.
One Last Dance
The next season the Bulls chose to go in a different direction, trading Butler and starting a rebuild. Wade had his contract bought out, going on to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In an ironic turn, he was traded midseason back to Miami, where he would play out the rest of his career. Wade’s career as a Bull was not long, and it was arguably not highly successful. But for all Chicago Bulls fans, it sure was special. So thank you, Wade, not just for 2016, but for 16 years of magnificence.