by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport

When a player reaches double-digit years in the NBA, the substantiality of their professional career worth boils down to one simple equation:

career points + career rebounds + career assists ÷ Championships = legacy

As he enters his 10th season in the League, Dwyane Wade, who moves down one spot from last year’s No. 5 ranking to this year’s No. 6 ranking on our list, has his eyes on the legacy he’ll leave as a player in the L. Don’t believe it? Just look at his move from Jordan Brand, a sneaker built by his childhood hero, Michael Jordan, the man he patterned his game by, to little known sneaker outfit, Li-Ning. In a word, the whole move was all about his legacy.

And for all of his masterful, YouTube-worthy Euro steps, his blow by moves to the rack, his posterizing dunks over unsuspecting defenders—that means you, Anderson Varajeo, his crafty step back J’s, his unrelenting acrobatics in the lane, his in-your-face, sticky like fly paper, one-on-one defense, for Flash, it all comes down to the numbers he’s posted with the only team he’s ever suited up for: The Miami Heat.

Let’s do the math, shall we?

Over the course of nine years, Wade has amassed 14, 990 points, 3,020 rebounds and 3,697 assists over 596 career games (2,776 points, 619 rebounds and 586 assists over 110 career Playoff games). And for the cherry on top? Wade has 1,055 steals and 611 blocks (182 steals and 125 blocks in the postseason).

He has two Larry O’Brien trophies. One Finals MVP trophy. Eight All-Star appearances. And this can’t be overlooked, one free-agency coup de grâce.

To those that think it was mere coincidence that Chris Bosh and LeBron James defected to South Beach from Toronto and Cleveland, respectively, simply because of Pat Riley or, for the warm weather, know this: they went to the 305 for one reason and one reason only: to play with Dwyane Wade. Of the NBA’s most celebrated and hated triumvirate, Wade it its elder statesman. He’s the face. He’s the soul. He’s the OG. And all OGs know the ultimate key to everything athletes are seeking in the professional ranks. It’s the immutable truth. It’s the golden rule.

The path to greatness is along with others.

To those “experts” who would balk at such an idea, there is this undisputed fact: no one has ever done anything on their own. No one. Not MJ, not Magic, not Bird, not anyone.

So when the choices were laid out in front of him, like food à la carte on a buffet table at the Sizzler, who did the Chosen One choose to join on his way to erasing the gaping hole in life? What kingdom did King James choose to join to climb that last mountain to an NBA title?

Dwyane Wade’s kingdom.

That’s the ultimate arbiter in the curious case of DWade.

The numbers, they all count. And it matters that he’s missed games due to injury. As this season begins, he’ll be making his way back from his second surgery on the same knee. And it also matters that, unlike LBJ, he is on the other side of his prime. But even with all of that, Wade is still a top-five player in the NBA. Sure, he had to be bumped to No. 6 for this list, but for me, I can’t put him below No. 5A in my mind.

Need a big play? Call on Wade. Need someone to clear it out and hit the game-winner? Draw one up for Wade. Need a lockdown defender to shut down the other team’s top scorer? Turn Wade loose on him. In a League chockfull of stats and metrics and definable qualities by which to judge a player, Wade is indescribable. He’s in a class of his own.

And when it comes to taking the credit, he passes it onto his teammates. Ain’t that just like DWade? Word to Jay-Z.

And after 10 years of excellence, opulence, decadence (still on my Hov ish) at the two guard spot, Wade is still a competitive force of nature.

And although the Heat is LeBron’s team now, Wade is still the one everyone—you, me, the team, the fans, hell, even LBJ—relies on to finish the game.

Win it for us, DWade.

He’s still the one players come to for advice. If LeBron is the Commander-in-Chief, he’s still the Five-Star General. He’s the one who’s actually been to war. He’s still the one who brought Miami its first ever NBA title. Miami will forever be his house.

He’s Dwyane, not Dwayne. Even the way he spells his name makes more sense now to the good folks at Scripps than the way the Rock spells his.

Wade changed the game and the name.

Now, how’s that for a legacy?

Where should Dwyane Wade rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

Loading ... Loading ...
SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
RankPlayerTeamPositionPos. Rank
50Greg MonroePistonsC8
49Tyreke EvansKingsPG14
48Brandon JenningsBucksPG13
47Stephen CurryWarriorsPG12
46Ricky RubioTWolvesPG11
45Al JeffersonJazzPF14
44Anthony DavisHornetsPF13
43Serge IbakaThunderPF12
42Al HorfordHawksC7
41Ty LawsonNuggetsPG10
40Danny GrangerPacersSF6
39Tim DuncanSpursPF11
38John WallWizardsPG9
37Monta EllisBucksSG8
36Zach RandolphGrizzliesPF10
35Roy HibbertPacersC6
34Tyson ChandlerKnicksC5
33Eric GordonHornetsSG7
32Kevin GarnettCelticsPF9
31Manu GinobiliSpursSG6
30Amar’e StoudemireKnicksPF8
29Marc GasolGrizzliesC4
28DeMarcus CousinsKingsC3
27Paul PierceCelticsSF5
26Andre IguodalaNuggetsSG5
25Rudy GayGrizzliesSF4
24Josh SmithHawksPF7
23Derrick RoseBullsPG8
22Joe JohnsonNetsSG4
21Steve NashLakersPG7
20James HardenThunderSG3
19Pau GasolLakersPF6
18Chris BoshHeatPF5
17Kyrie IrvingCavsPG6
16LaMarcus AldridgeBlazersPF4
15Tony ParkerSpursPG5
14Dirk NowitzkiMavsPF3
13Andrew BynumSixersC2
12Blake GriffinClippersPF2
11Kevin LoveTWolvesPF1
10Carmelo AnthonyKnicksSF3
9Russell WestbrookThunderPG4
8Rajon RondoCelticsPG3
7Deron WilliamsNetsPG2
6Dwyane WadeHeatSG2

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.