MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dwyane Wade, the most legendary player in Miami Heat franchise history, returned to the court minutes into Friday night’s game.
Crowds at the American Airlines Arena for the Heat game against the Bucks cheered as Wade came out Friday evening.
— Mike Cugno (@MikeCugnoCBS4) February 9, 2018
As the Heat fell behind 9-0, the crowd chanted, “We want Wade!”
Wade took the court midway through the first quarter as the fans gave him a standing ovation. He immediately grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a lob pass to Hassan Whiteside, who was able to slam home a dunk.
Minutes later, Wade took his first shot, a 3 from the right wing, and drilled it bringing the crowd to its feet.
There were other moments in the first half too_a no-look alley-oop pass in transition to Johnson for a dunk and another lob to Whiteside for a dunk.
Before the game, Wade addressed the South Florida media after Heat shoot around.
“My eyes and heart were always here,” said Wade. “I said that from the beginning. They weren’t going to go anywhere. I had a different zip code and a different jersey on my body, but who I am in the core and deep down inside is always here.”
A 19 month journey that felt like a lifetime for Heat fans has finally brought their favorite son home to the American Airlines Arena. Wade left the Heat in the Summer of 2016 to join the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls bought him out in September of last year, when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent. The struggling Cavs decided to blow up their roster to rebuild it around LeBron James at the trade deadline, presenting the perfect chance for Wade to return to Miami.
Time away can really make a man appreciate where he came from.
“You get out and you see other organizations and the way they do things, and it’s just different. Whatever ‘different’ is, it’s just different. Today was my first day (back) here and I felt as comfortable today as I felt since I left, being in other organizations. I’m definitely excited to be back. The jersey and the colors fit.”
Wade first learned he was on the Heat’s radar around noon on Thursday, when he received a “call me, 911” text from his agent. Immediately, he knew something was brewing.
“I haven’t gotten a lot of texts like that on the trade deadline in my career, so I knew it was something,” said Wade. “I definitely agreed (to come back to Miami) and it went from there.”
Wade had one final lunch with LeBron James in Cleveland, which he described as a “send-off.” Afterwards, he hopped on a plane to reunite with Pat Riley.
Whatever his role will be, Wade will trust head coach Erik Spoelstra to maximize his fit on the Heat roster. Spoelstra confirmed that Wade will come off the bench on Friday night when the Heat host the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I just want to win, man,” emphasized Wade. “I want to come here and be a part of these guys. Just to see from afar, the development of Josh Richardson. To see Goran (Dragic) be an all star. To see what Whiteside is capable of, those 20-20 nights. I just want to be a part of that and bring what I can to this team. I’m not a coach and it’s not my job to coach and say where I should be. Coach will figure out where I fit in and how I fit in. I’ll just try to be the best in the role that’s presented to me.”
The Heat often struggle to finish out tight games. No one has hit more clutch game-winners in a Heat uniform than D-Wade. Could that be his role once again?
“I just want to come in and be who I am. I’m not afraid of any moment. If it’s fourth quarter time I know what to do, and that’s play the game of basketball,” noted Wade. “That’s all you do. You go out there and you play your game, use your teammates, and go from there. If I’m in that position for this team, I’ll try to deliver as I have before.”
Wade’s return to the Miami Heat lineup is an emotional one for the team’s fans. Wade was asked if he was at all nervous about how the fans would respond to his return. The feedback hasn’t been all positive, believe it or not.
“I know how the world works. Everyone doesn’t love Dwyane Wade,” he said. “I don’t concern myself with that. The ones that matter and need to matter in my life; as long as they’re cool with it, I’m good. I definitely feel that at least 51-percent of people are happy with it. If you’ve got at least 51-percent ownership of something, you’re good,” Wade said, chuckling.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)