As expected, Dwyane Wade was fined $25,000 by the NBA for making a very prominent throat-slashing gesture during his team’s win over the Boston Celtics. The move came after Wade nailed a game-sealing three-pointer late in Thursday’s nationally televised game.
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“His team,” in this instance, is the Chicago Bulls. In the first game of his 14-year career worked without a Miami Heat uniform draped over his shoulders, Wade notched 22 points while hitting four of six three pointers in Chicago’s 105-99 win over a game Celtics squad.
Before news of the fine hit, Wade hopped on Twitter to apologize for the violent swish:
I wanna apologize to my young fans on my gesture at the end of last nights game. I was caught up in the emotions of my first game at home.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) October 28, 2016
For those that missed it, here is Wade’s barrage …
… and, the aftermath:
Following the game, D-Wade pinned his reaction on a lack of lucidity, well-earned from hitting nearly as many three-pointers in his 2016-17 season debut (four!) than he did during all of 2015-16 with the Heat (seven!!!):
“To be able to make a shot like that and help us get this win, it’s like the perfect storm,” Wade said after the game.
“When I released it, I’m not going to say I knew it was going in, because anything could happen, but I felt very good about the shot, and there was just a lot of emotion running through me. I had an out-of-body experience after that.”
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In talking to The Vertical’s Shams Charania on Thursday, Wade went out of his way to insist that his gesture and play had little to do with what he left behind in Miami, and everything to do with his new status as the (six years too late, most would acknowledge) savior of his hometown Bulls:
“A lot of emotions hit me when I made that shot. I’m not here because I’m angry at [Heat president Pat Riley] or the Heat. There’s no anger. I’m happy because I got the freedom to look elsewhere. I got to look at home.”
“I closed the Miami chapter right there,” Wade told The Vertical inside an empty locker room late Thursday.
“I can’t focus over there anymore. I want those guys in Miami to be successful, but I’m motivated by greatness here. I’m motivated by doing what people think I can’t do, for sure. I had to make a decision, and I feel good about the decision I made.”
For now, one supposes. As Shams pointed out, the Heat made their intentions with Wade clear from the outset of the 2016 offseason – refusing to offer him an outsized contract for his mid-30s years, giving a veritable shrug of the shoulders when the Bulls offered to pay him huge gobs of money to play for a team that might not even make the playoffs in the East.
Wade, working on a two-year contract with a player option for 2017-18, might even tire of the charade of this post-breakup tough guy talk, and head back to Miami next season. Even, though, as he told The Vertical on Thursday, Pat Riley has yet to reach out to his former franchise player.
Of course, don’t think the Heat weren’t watching on Thursday night. Led by former teammate and current Pat Riley combatant Chris Bosh:
Congrats to my brother @DwyaneWade for his debut tonight! I know this is a childhood dream that he's living right now. How awesome is that?
— Chris Bosh (@chrisbosh) October 28, 2016
Ex-teammate Udonis Haslem, who had been with D-Wade from 2003-04 onward, didn’t think his heroics down the stretch on Thursday were out of place:
“Not strange watching Dwyane Wade hit a clutch shot down the stretch,” Haslem said. “I think I’ve seen that a couple times. Just the jersey different. He didn’t make a shot against the Heat, so I’m happy for him.”
Erik Spoelstra, who watched Wade sink just 301 regular season three-pointers in eight seasons for Miami with Spo working as the team’s head coach (for reference, Stephen Curry hit 402 in 2016-17), had this to offer:
“Shoot, he looks like Dwyane Korver right now,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, referencing Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver. “Dwyane can shoot. Don’t let that fool you. He would put up those kind of numbers in the playoffs when it really mattered, when defenses tightened up.”
That is sometimes true, as Wade famously went off for 12 three-pointers (on 23 attempts) in 14 postseason games last year. Though D-Wade’s 32.5 percent career three-point percentage in the postseason excluding 2016 is hardly inspiring.
The Heat, who lost their first Miami-placed post-Wade game 97-91 to Charlotte on Friday night, have figuratively moved on. Wade’s former locker, once set aside for the since-waived Beno Udrih, sits empty:
For 13 years there was a Heat locker room nameplate that read '3 Wade.' Now that stall is unoccupied, the … https://t.co/sYYqYgczsI
— Greg Cote (@gregcote) October 28, 2016
Second-year lottery pick Justise Winslow, who played but a season with Wade in Miami, remains unmoved:
“Give him a banner or something, I don’t care,” Justise Winslow said. “But a locker? That’s whatever.”
Udonis Haslem, the lone active leftover from the Heat’s two championship runs (to say little of Wade’s rookie year), echoed that indifference:
“Yeah, it’s over,” Haslem said. “Our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been. But that chapter is closed for everybody. If it re-opens, then I’ll let you know.”
Dwyane Wade and his Chicago Bulls will visit Miami for the first time on Nov. 10. The game will be televised by TNT.
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