From the moment he walked off the court at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 10, 2019, with a career-ending triple-double, this moment Saturday in Houston at the NCAA Final Four was inevitable.
Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade has been selected as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with enshrinement to follow on Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass.
It will be one of the most star-studded inductions in years, rivaling the bittersweet 2020 inductions of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and, posthumously, Kobe Bryant.
Announced as part of the Hall’s Class of 2023 along with Wade were fellow former NBA players Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker, as well as San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and former WNBA star and current WNBA coach Becky Hammon.
Wade’s ascension to the Hall seemingly was preordained from the moment he stepped on the court for the Heat in 2003 as a first-round pick out of Marquette. From there, he shared in Heat NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.
“A young Dwyane Wade never thought that this moment would be here,” Wade said during NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, when he was named a finalist. “You know, sometimes when you’re young and you have a dream, a lot of people don’t believe in your dream — it seems so far-fetched. But I’ve always been a dreamer.”
Wade becomes the eighth Hall of Famer with ties to playing or coaching tenures with the Heat, joining previous enshrinees Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Pat Riley and Tim Hardaway, who was inducted last year.
Heat captain Udonis Haslem embraced the inexorable, including the uniqueness of Wade being the NBA’s all-time leader in blocked shots for a player of his size.
“It speaks for itself,” Haslem said. “First ballot, two-way player, played both ends. I think he leads guards in blocked shots and he’s only 6-4 or something like that. Just a tremendous talent, man. I’ve been blessed to play with some great players and he’s right at the top of the list.”
Wade, who was not highly recruited out of high school in Chicago, has taken particular pride in his journey.
“I gave the game everything that I had and I did it every day,” he said.
Wade’s No. 3 was retired by the Heat in February 2020, 10 months after he closed out his career, putting him on the clock for this 2023 induction. In addition to bookending his career with the Heat, Wade briefly played for the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Heat add a Hall of Fame designation to the retired-number banners of each of their players so honored at Miami-Dade Arena, as already has been the case with Mourning, O’Neal, Bosh and Hardaway and ultimately will be for LeBron James, the third member of the Heat Big Three that advanced to the NBA Finals every year from 2011 to 2014.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who guided Wade to those 2012 and ‘13 championships, said he already is anticipating enshrinement weekend.
“This class is insane,” he said. “It’s going to be a really fun weekend. But certainly to finally get it stamped officially is a great moment.”
Wade attended the Heat’s recent home victory over the New York Knicks, reminding Spoelstra of what he and the franchise once had.
“It was an amazing moment last week when he was in the building,” Spoelstra said. “I miss Dwyane. I miss seeing him. When you get used to seeing people day to day every day during a season and then all of a sudden you don’t see them except for every few months, you realize looking back – wow, those were some incredible memories that you developed with each other.”
Wade, the franchise’s all-time leader in points, assists, games and steals, was a 13-time All-Star and eight-time selection for an All-NBA team. In addition, he was the NBA’s leading scorer in 2009, was named MVP of both the 2006 NBA Finals and 2010 All-Star Game, and shared in a gold medal with the 2008 USA Basketball Olympic team in Beijing.
Selection criteria for the Hall also includes achievements on the prep, collegiate and international levels.