Monday, February 11th, 2008 at 11:25 pm  |  35 responses

A Wade New World

What is it like for Dwyane without Shaq?

By Michael Tillery

I caught the Heat at the Sixers last Thursday, and here’s how I saw it…

The Heat are a depleted team and sit at 9-39. There’s no getting around it. It’s bad—real bad. It’s not normal to see one of the NBA’s royalty having it so rough. When was the last time you saw an NBA superstar in such a woeful spot?

Yeah, it’s been that long.

Dwyane Wade sure as hell is not used to this. His Marquette team made it to the Final Four the year Melo and Syracuse cut ‘em down and then he was drafted by the Heat—a team on the up and up. Most thought Carmelo Anthony and LeBron would get break the tape first, but Flash got that June confetti shine before either player made it out of the first round. Yeah, Diesel rolled into town and helped make it happen, but Flash was the MVP of the series—averaging 34 points mainly from charity stripe trips in the teens each game. It mos def seemed like an accomplished career was in the making. Wade was in position to be one of the greats early.

For the time being at least, that’s all over now.

Shaq is gone. This will be an entirely different squad with Marion on the wing. The Matrix is known for guarding anyone from the 1 to 4, filling the lane on the break or hoisting up his unorthodox jumper in reverse.

It’s definitely a period of transition for Flash. Dude has to gain a new purpose professionally. It ain’t gonna be easy any more. It’s time to man up as the world watches and it will be interesting to see how the Marion and Banks for Shaq trade works out for both Phoenix and Miami. Personally, I think he’s got it in him, for Flash is as professional as they come. He’s a reserved assassin of reticent alchemy along the likes of Derek Jeter or Barry Sanders so it’ll all come out in the wash.

The game was uneventful. Philly definitely took advantage of a team in disarray like they should have. Sixer mascot Hip Hop had the cameraman behind press row covered in silly string to the delight of a crowd more interested in his antics than the NBA contest before them.

Then things changed….

Rodney Carney, who is known to get up, had a sick tomahawk flush on Flash early in the second quarter off the break. Wade simply smiled (What else could he do?) as the crowd—and even the press—let out a collective: “Ooooh!” The Sixers have been coming on strong lately with their young cats (Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Carney) jumping into the passing lanes, getting turnovers and creating fast break opportunities leading to crowd pleasing dunks.


In the 4th quarter Flash decided it was time for the get back. He caught a pass creeping under the basket and banged it strong on Carney—sending him sprawling helplessly to the floor (Knees and ass all scraped up, but I guess that’s why he wears his socks high and his shorts low). Wade then got a just so ya know tech staring the young guy down as he lay on the floor shortly thereafter. Classic exchange and one both will remember because the locker room will not let them forget.

After the depleted Heat were on the wrong end of a 101-84 defeat, the first questions in the locker room focused on the dunks.

Wade unquestionably a little humbled and careful with his words because his team was in earshot offered: “I don’t have the hops that I used to. I just smiled when he dunked on me. He got me. It happens to everyone. But to get him back and he fell was even better. (Laughter) It was all for the fans. It’s all a show. I’ll hear it from my teammates, but it’s all better though.”

Right on time Mark Blount yelled out: “Watch ya head!” eliciting laughter from everyone in the room as Flash boyishly smiled a little embarrassed.

This was the last Heat game before Marion, and the big trade was obviously still a big topic of conversation. Mike Lee from the Washington Post asked Flash if he talked to Shaq and how he felt about the big fella getting a 22-game bump in the standings after the trade and Wade joked: “Yeah I talked to him last night and I told him that was some BS. That’s the one thing I didn’t like that he goes to the best record in the Western Conference and leaves the worst record in the East. That kinda sucks.”

I then asked Flash how is learning from this personally after having so much early success and then going through present period of uncertainty. Introspective, he states: “My career will write its own book. I don’t know what comes next. The only thing I could do is come in every day—just like I did when we were winning—and find a way to get better and better. We know it’s not going to be perfect at all times. I was fortunate to come in with a team that made dramatic changes early in my career and put a championship caliber team (together) and we won a championship. Now we are in the process of getting back that way, so now we are in the midst of a small rebuilding stage. It won’t be that long. I tell you that. We’ll get it back.”

On the way to the bus, fellow SLAM contributor and TSF writer Anthony Gilbert and I spoke with Wade about this and that. There were kids all over the place, diamond eyed and mouths wide, clamoring to get a chance to speak with Dwyane. He stopped for every youthful fan who wanted his autograph or picture with class. It gave me a chance to ask him what he would want to say to his loyal fans during this rough stretch:

“I think the main thing is…once kids get to know you—until they get to know you—they are not necessarily following your team. They are following you. I’m still the same person I’ve been whether I’m winning or losing. I think kids like Dwyane Wade for when we were winning 59 games my second year. I think that’s why I have the same following. I appreciate the fans—our fans. Fans make the game. Fans help you uplift your spirit.”

Dwyane who was that person—public or not—that gave you a passionate state of consciousness and one you might draw from? Again introspective, Wade says: “Well, definitely all of the heroes we all are familiar with. Growing up you learn about everyone for the most part who affected our history. Basketball is my thing, so that person was Michael Jordan. He was very inspirational to me. He really was the one to break me to the celebrity of this (NBA) world. I really enjoyed what he did for the game.”

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  • tealish


  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    “When was the last time you saw an NBA superstar in such a woeful spot?”
    Well, it wasn’t quite as bad as Wade’s situation this year, but KG’s Timberwolves finished up at 32-50 just last year. That wasn’t so good.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    And I think the Trix/Wade combo has the potential to be very good, especially if they can get another piece in exchange for Ricky and/or Jason Williams.

  • Ken

    Given how bad the Heat’s record is, they should have some hope for the future. They should be able to pick up something good in the lottery, which would either help them right off, or they could trade. At the moment though, Marion, Haslem, Davis, and Wade all pretty much play the same positions, they lack a decent pg, and they don’t have a real center. Those are key positions to be missing. It’s not as bad as the Hawks a couple years ago, but it ain’t good either.

  • Sizzle

    d-wade is in the same position penny & kobe had been some years ago – won a championship (hardaway not, but kobe) & left alone, just waiting for another partner to getting them another ring ( & they´re still waiting…)

  • Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Wade better work on his all-around game, his handlesvare pretty weak. Does anyone else think its odd that Wade, at the ripe old age of 25, can say ” I can’t jump like I used to.” Sad man

  • Pro

    Sorry but didn’t Wade have surgery on his knee in the offseason, which obviously would affect his hops? His Handles are weak? Have you seen dude yank guys left and right then take them to the rim? Your not serious Slick.

  • Goody

    Slick Nick I can’t understand that either. I hear young players say that all the time and they have gone through none of what we went thru in the past to achieve greatness. God Bless Sean Marion going from the transition game with the Suns to hardly any touches in Miami. If Wade caught a lesson in passing then maybe that body wouldn’t hurt so much. That one on one in Miami is reediculous. What happened to Ricky Davis and that macho bad boy attitude?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Good take on it, Michael. Kind of off, but nicely done just the same. I like D-Wade’s last paragraph too. Hopefully, he starts living up to his hero’s legacy again.

  • http://aspov.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Thanks, Michael. I was wondering what was going on in Wade’s head with all this losing. I hope he can bring the same positive outlook inside the lockerroom, even through what will be a losing season. I think they’ll be okay and I’m hoping Marion sticks.

  • phunkykarma

    I m french and I’d like to know if the expression “the Miami Heat” is singular or plural. Is it “the Miami Heat is …” or “the Heat are…” It’s the same for the Orlando Magic. Otherwise, I think the Heat is/are gonna be just fine next season. The front office just has to find a center. They have cap space anyway to sign free agents, and they’ll probably get lottery picks since they have a bad record this season.

  • phunkykarma

    I’m doubtful about Marion/ Wade being the next Pip/MJ duo.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Sentence’s with the Heat in it should read like “The Miami Heat are horrible”. “The Miami Heat is terrible” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    Kind of off?

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    Russ there’s no way the Heat smell 32 wins before the addition of Marion.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Not how the piece was done, Michael, the actual take on the “how” he has slipped is off is all. Just a steadfast fans point of view.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Say what you will but Wade is still a top 7 or 8 player in this league. Don’t let the media hype d*ck you over. That dude is good.

  • http://kickrocks.com Zee

    eboy = slam online’s skip bayless?

  • http://hiphopdx.com Zee

    Is Wade’s current situation comparable to Bron’s? Or is her in a better situation since he has Marion?

  • michelle

    First of all Shaq got his ring in Miami because of D-Wade, so don’t get that twisted. D-Wade is coming off a shoulder injury and he will be back to full strength next year. I don’t understand these fans that slam a player for falling off a bit after a major injury. That just doesn’t make any sense. When he is healthy, he will play like his old self. DAH!

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    You had to get “steadfast” in there huh? ;) Wade was joking when he said he doesn’t get up like he used to. I thought that would obvious to peeps. The piece was more about the melancholy vibe surrounding the Heat. It was a bunch of sad laughter in the locker room. You know..the laugh that becomes a blank stare when reality hits type of thing.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Hey man, that’s all I got left. :)

  • arthur

    TMac in Orlando was pretty bad

  • Miguel Ferreira

    Well I think the Heat will get better with the Matrix and Flash Uniting.

  • Miguel Ferreira

    :) :D O.K now D-Wade has gotta get back into the game

  • Miguel Ferreira


  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Yo Clifton, Chuck says it all the time “The Heat is turrible”.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    32 wins is still terrible. And if that’s not bad enough, Paul Pierce’s Celtics finished 24-58 last year. Superstars know failure.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    What’s your definition of superstar. There’s only a select few in the league. Not everyone is a superstar.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    I don’t consider Paul Pierce and Tracy McGrady superstars. They are more along the lines of George Gervin as opposed to Kobe’s Doc.

  • jeremy

    things are gonna get better in miami.Dwade with shawn plus a lottery pick waiting.I would draft Roy Hibbert.that would be interesting.

  • gina

    Do they have a big man in the middle now? All I heard was Phoenix can’t win without a big man in the middle, so how can Miami win without one? Marion is such a good player. This fan will miss him in Phoenix. Now I am watching Miami play ball for the first time because of him. He is an exciting player to watch. I think it will be good for him to help build up this team. Exciting times.

  • big al

    first of all t-mac is a superstar,his injurys just wont allow him to perform like he use to,but all haters need to get off my boy d-wade he came in and won a ring before but melo and lebron and if u seen that series he basiclly did it by himself something i havent seen crybaby kobe do

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