Dwyane Wade has been around the league a few times. After 15 seasons in the NBA, he’s seen some things, won some games, and played with and against some of the greatest players of all time.
Of all that basketball, however, Wade feels that he’s never had an opponent as tough as the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
“They’re special,” said Wade. “They put the right team together. I’ve said that multiple times. Outside of matching the energy that we play with, they execute very well, they are very well coaches, and they have a lot of talent at a lot of different positions. This is definitely one of the best first-round series that I’ve ever played, [the best] first-round opponent.”
The Miami Heat are certainly struggling against Philly, down 3-1 with the series shifting back to the Philadelphia Monday. As Wade said, they have a number of great young players, including Ben Simmons (who also has a good relationship with LeBron James), a personal favorite of Wade’s.
“You could see the way he looked at guys like ourselves and how we worked,” said Wade, praising the rookie. “He was taking notes, mental notes. To see him a few years later and see where he is in his game and the effect on a state and a city to play the game of basketball on such a high level, it’s impressive.”
While Wade may be a fan of the young Sixers roster and the team, he hasn’t been getting along with the fans very well. In Game One, comedian Kevin Hart, a huge Philly fan, was seen heckling Wade from the sidelines. In Game Two, Wade turned back the clock with an insane performance to steal a win in Philadelphia, blaming Hart afterwards.
Now, the two friends are no longer friends—but Wade did assure everyone they’ll be back to normal after the series.
“We’re not friends right now,” said Wade of Kevin Hart. “We made it very clear we’re not friends now. But we’ll be friends after the playoffs is over with. We’re not friends. I don’t like him.”
And while the Miami Heat face potential elimination in Philadelphia against a much better Sixers team, the real question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Wade will play another game in Miami.
No, he most likely won’t be leaving in free agency again, but after 15 years, retirement rumors have been swirling around the three-time NBA champion.
But don’t ask him because he isn’t saying anything.
“I don’t want to answer that right now,” answered Wade. “I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game.”
Wade needs some time to collect his thoughts. It’s hard to consider your future when you’re just trying to survive the traveling and the intensity of the NBA Playoffs.
“Just taking time to think, that’s all I’m doing,” said Wade. “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. Someone like Vince [Carter] can go anywhere and play. Every year, he can go to do a different location. I can’t hop to here and there. So it makes it a little tougher.”
Carter has announced that he intends to be back next season, but Wade might not decide to keep things moving. He’s had a good, long career, and it seemingly came full circle when the Cleveland Cavaliers traded him back to the Miami Heat earlier this season.
Now, Wade has been playing well, but the game takes a toll. And the Heat aren’t exactly championship contenders in their current state, no matter how well Wade is playing.
“I definitely was trying to lead my team,” said Wade. “Coach put the ball in my hand, and I was trying to lead us to try to steal one, in a sense, once they took the lead, we were trying to steal one here back at home, so we could go back 2-2. We’re going to get back to finding out what it is to try to get better, to get to that point. Like I told them, we have nothing to lose, man…Our only goal, our only thing we have to do is put everything we have on the line. We’re trying to make a series out of this so let’s go in and just play free but play hard, play the Miami Heat way, live with the results from there.”
If Wade decided to retire, the NBA will be losing a legend. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, and one hell of a player. Maybe he’ll find some extra gas soon and give it one more go.