MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade says that whenever he would hear the national anthem play before Miami home games, he would take a moment and look to the rafters.
“I always imagined my jersey being up there,” Wade said.
He will no longer have to imagine the sight. After this weekend, it’ll be there for good.
Wade will become the fifth Heat player to get his number retired by the team, joining Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Bosh. A three-day celebration of Wade’s time in Miami starts on Friday, a weekend highlighted by his No. 3 formally going to the rafters on Saturday night when the Heat play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Wade spent 16 seasons in the NBA, 14½ of those with the Heat. He was one of two players to be part of all three Heat championship teams — Udonis Haslem, whose No. 40 will almost certainly be retired by the team one day, is the other.
It was never a question of whether Wade’s jersey was going to be retired by the Heat, only a question of when. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in points, games, assists and steals and is probably going to keep most, if not all, of those records for a very long time. Consider: He scored 21,556 regular-season points with the Heat, and Alonzo Mourning is second with 9.459.
Earlier this season, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers — like Wade, a Chicago native who went on to play at Marquette — said he believes Wade doesn’t get enough credit for what he did as a player, especially in the NBA Finals.
“He’s been underrated his whole life,” Rivers said. “He didn’t get recruited very highly. Took Marquette to a Final Four. He still didn’t go as high as he should have in the draft and then he took the Miami Heat to NBA championships. That’s just who he is.”
Wade was the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, was selected to 13 All-Star Games in his 16 seasons, was an All-Star MVP in 2010 and won an Olympic gold medal.
“Every time I look up to the rafters and see your #3 hanging there, I’ll think of the impact you had not only on this organization, this city and this league, but on my life,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wrote in an open letter to Wade that will be part of the team’s game-night giveaway program for fans on Saturday.
The weekend also includes a night of tribute speeches on Friday and a showing of a documentary about Wade on Sunday.