Dwyane Wade played his first game in Miami for another team last night. That might not sound exactly like earth-shattering news in this day and age, yet I watched because I was curious to see just exactly how fans would react to a guy who brought them so much pride and joy wearing a different uniform.
And not just any uniform, mind you: Wade is in a Chicago Bulls uniform, in case you haven’t heard. He traded sunny South Beach for his hometown of Chicago. He grew up dealing with those frozen winters and decided that he wanted to end his Hall of Fame-bound career there.
So that’s weird. I mean, I think the idea is you want to do the reverse. You put together a nice little life in the north and then spend those last years in the south, basking in the warmth, hanging out on the beach and wearing flip-flops almost all of the time.
But Wade didn’t want to do that. The Heat had become a different team, Shaq and Zo, the guys he won a ring with in 2006, are both long gone from the league, all-time greats confirmed by introductions to the Hall of Fame. Chris Bosh’s whole career was up in the air, while LeBron, the biggest piece to the puzzle, the guy that helped make the Heat the best team in the world in 2012 and 2013, went back home … to Cleveland. So Wade followed suit. Cold is the new sunny and warm, I guess.
? D. Wade pic.twitter.com/sC5t83IbMw
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 11, 2016
Last night’s homecoming, however, was interesting if you know a little bit of basketball history. Miami, well, it’s in Florida. So people who don’t root for the team obviously use that as ammunition to make fun of them. Anything from Florida seems pretty open to ridicule from people that don’t live there. Yet the two teams have had a history, as the Bulls and Heat engaged in some pretty heated (no pun intended, seriously) battles that involved everything from Joakim Noah’s finest moment to Joakim Noah being at the receiving end of a flipped bird from a spectator in an image that’s burned into the minds of countless basketball fans as what they think is the definition of a Miami Heat fan.
That’s all in the past. Last night, Wade returned home, and there was something oddly comforting in the way Heat fans reacted to Wade’s introduction. It wasn’t surprising, seeing as the guy gave it all for the franchise and helped deliver three titles to Miami. But it was nice, especially when you consider the mixed reaction Derrick Rose got from his hometown’s fans when he showed up in a New York Knicks uniform.
It’s just an introduction, sure, but you don’t usually get to go back to the place you left and get that kind of respect. Dwyane Wade did, and in a week super-charged with political division and an us vs. them mentality, it was nice to see a little bit of respect being given where it’s due.