Appearing on NBA TV Friday night after donning a Heat jersey for the first time in more than 20 months, Wade said he never wants to play for another organization. “This is it for me guys,” he stated. “I’m [going to] stay here until I decide to hang it up. This is home. I’m so happy to be back.”
Wade was beloved in Miami, bringing three NBA titles to the city before leaving in 2016 over a salary dispute. He wound up with two bad experiences, spending one season in Chicago before agreeing to a buyout, then signing with a Cavaliers team that became so dysfunctional that management opted for a midseason roster overhaul.
The Heat got Wade at a bargain price, giving up a heavily protected second-round pick in 2024 that will probably never be conveyed. He received a hero’s welcome when his plane landed at the Miami airport, then another when he walked onto the court for Friday’s game.
“It’s right. It sounds right. It’s second nature,” Wade said. “I was telling somebody recently that I was in my kitchen in Cleveland and watching ESPN and something came up and it said Heat versus somebody and I said ‘We play?’ And [then] I’m like ‘That’s right I don’t play in Miami no more.’ So it’s like a thing — every time I see Heat in my mind it was always like ‘We.’ So, it definitely feels good to be here, to be in the locker room.”
It appears the Heat have a long-term arrangement in mind as well. Wade will be a free agent again this summer and the team is capped out, but it can use one of its exceptions to re-sign him. After making the trade Thursday, team president Pat Riley said Wade still has a lot to offer.
Wade doesn’t mind being used as a reserve in Miami after taking on the same role in Cleveland. He also looks forward to serving as a mentor to his new teammates.
“We’ve got so much growth possibility here,” he added. “I’ve got so much to learn about these guys’ talents. I’m excited about it. Like I said, [Friday night] was definitely a good start. We did some good things and like I said we did some things we can learn from. It’s a young team that can get better.”