Late in his career, Dwyane Wade, once known as Flash, has a new nickname: Father Prime. It’s a play on an NBA cliché, “Father Time is undefeated,” that the 36-year-old Miami Heat guard is rejecting with throwback performances like the one he enjoyed in Monday’s Game 2 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
But Wade is no dummy. He knows the score after two tumultuous seasons — leaving Miami for Chicago once the Heat lowballed their aging franchise player in 2016, giving $8 million back to the Bulls in a buyout one year later and signing a veteran minimum ring-chasing deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer, only to be unceremoniously dumped back on the Heat for a heavily protected second-round pick, the NBA’s version of a nothing burger. Wade is closer to retirement than he is his prime.
And never has he made that more clear than he did to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Monday night:
“A lot of people think that if you do decide to go out it’s because you weren’t supposed to be able to play no more. It’s not always supposed to be that,” Wade told ESPN after the game.
Wade said he will take time after the season to decide whether to retire or return to the Heat for one more season.
“Just taking time to think, that’s all I’m doing,” Wade said. “Taking time to think and looking at every angle and what’s the best situation for me to be in. That’s all. It’s a lot of different, it’s a lot of different things that come into play.”
Wade has made veiled references to his career’s end before. Upon joining the Cavs in September, he said he still plans to retire with the Heat. And upon returning to Miami in February, the 12-time All-Star said this was his last NBA stop and he did not want a farewell tour, whenever the end may come.
But he’s never put his retirement in such certain terms, suggesting either this year or the next will be the culmination of a surefire Hall of Fame career. Wade is no longer the player he once was — the relentless 24-year-old who captured Finals MVP honors in 2006, the dynamic 28-year-old who led the NBA in scoring before LeBron James’ arrival in Miami, the proud 31-year-old who fought through injury to win a third title with the Heat or even the fading 34-year-old All-Star — but he can still be effective.
Never was that more evident than Monday, when he scored 28 points in 26 minutes off the bench, providing the steady hand that helped the young Heat even their first-round series with Philadelphia. Wade still has something left in the tank, but as he told ESPN, sometimes it’s best not to leave the game on empty. The Heat, like us all, will hope to see a few more vintage efforts from Wade before the season’s through, because it’s sounding more and more like we may not get many more chances.
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