They burned their LeBron James jerseys in Cleveland. They burned their Kevin Durant jerseys in Oklahoma City. Now, with Dwyane Wade announcing his decision to sign with the Chicago Bulls over the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, and other suitors, will they burn his?
Probably not. Wade is a little bit past his prime, but the Heat were serious competitors when he, Chris Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside were all healthy.
Still, after praising Wade for 13 seasons, Miami is shocked but grateful for his service. After all, he did help bring three championships to South Beach.
But why did he leave? The Heat were only able to offer a $40 million contract, $10 million below what Wade was looking for in his two-year deal. The Bulls are giving him $47 million, and the Nuggets offered north of $50 million. Wade is from Chicago, so I understand taking a slight hometown discount, but the Bulls aren’t looking to compete over the next few seasons without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
What Wade is throwing away is a chance to have a unique relationship with a city and a basketball franchise. A one-of-a-kind opportunity presented only to the most loyal superstars. A combination of years of dedication to a team and a championship or three to show for it. The kind that Kobe Bryant had with the Los Angeles Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
Or maybe it won’t make a difference. Let’s be honest; the Heat are still going to retire the number 3. And odds are no one will remember his stint with the Bulls in 10 years. After all, most people forget that Michael Jordan played for the Washington Wizards at the end. He’s a Chicago Bull. Hell, even LeBron James will be remembered as a Cleveland Cavalier after retirement if he doesn’t go anywhere else.
So yeah, maybe it doesn’t matter. Provided he doesn’t retire and come back three times and Short of a miracle season, Wade will always be a Heat superstar. But does loyalty mean nothing?