Dwyane Wade might have already played his final game at American Airlines Center. The Miami Heat superstar, retiring at season’s end, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s road game against the Dallas Mavericks due to an illness, the team has announced.
Wade is averaging 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 25.5 minutes per game while exclusively coming off the bench for the first time in his career. The 16-year veteran announced his retirement before the season tipped off, an indication that Wade no longer believes he’s up to the task of competing at the highest level on a nightly basis. But he has been better in 2018-19 than all but the most optimistic Heat fans anticipated, routinely leading Miami’s crunch-time offense while making the most of an “old man” game that combined with his unparalleled athleticism and explosiveness over a decade ago to make him a perennial MVP candidate.
Wade is obviously no longer at that level, but that hasn’t stopped opposing players and fans from showering him with adulation at every stop on his de facto farewell tour. The reception in Dallas could potentially represent a shift of sorts, though, due to his history with the team dating back to the 2011 NBA Finals, when he and LeBron James mocked Dirk Nowitzki for an illness that afflicted him during the championship series. The underdog Mavs, after coming back from double digits in the fourth quarter to win Game 2 in Miami, beat the superstar-laden Heat 4-2, winning their first championship in franchise history.
Even if Wade can’t go on Wednesday, it won’t be the last time he’ll share the floor with Nowitzki, also likely to hang it up at season’s end. Not only will the two appear in Sunday’s All-Star Game as special appointment by commissioner Adam Silver, but Dallas visits Miami in late March.