Dwyane Wade spent the first 13 years of his career in Miami, where he was a 12-time All-Star, a three-time NBA champion, a scoring champion and an NBA Finals MVP. He is, in short, the most decorated player in franchise history.
Which is why his decision to leave the Heat was so difficult for so many.
“It was tough. It was tough,” Shane Battier said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “As a former Heat player and a former teammate of D-Wade, I love D-Wade and am still connected with the organization down there. It was like watching your parents get divorced.”
Battier played for the Heat from 2011-14 and helped the Big Three win two NBA titles. He is close with Wade and close with the Heat.
“I understand where both sides are coming from,” Battier said. “D-Wade played his entire life in Miami. He wanted to see what else is out there. What if I’m missing something that I didn’t experience for 13 years in Miami? Chicago is sort of like a LeBron situation. It’s home for him. Any other place, I would have felt a little more weird, but I understand him going home, him trying to change Chicago, him trying to win for Chicago. And for the Heat, it’s time to give young guys an opportunity, and so I think they’re excited about that.”
Kobe Bryant was allowed to finish his career in Los Angeles, but it hampered the Lakers’ payroll, not to mention their ability to compete. Los Angeles went 65-181 (.264) over the last three seasons.
The Heat likely did not want to experience a similar fate, which is why they let Wade walk sooner rather than later.
“Look, whenever you get traded, you take it personally,” Battier said. “Everyone says it’s a business; we all know it’s a business on both sides. But it’s that feeling of rejection of, ‘Oh, man, they don’t want me.’ That’s a real emotion. It does hurt. You have to look at the other side and say, ‘Look, someone is willing to give something up or really, really wants me on their team.’ (But you still) say, ‘Well, my own team doesn’t want me. What’s wrong with me?’ That’s just part of the game.”
Wade, 34, averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals for Miami last season.