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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
1 Apr 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Heat icon Dwyane Wade named to Hall of Fame Class of 2023, ‘This is basketball heaven’

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 unanimously selected as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with enshrinement to follow on Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass.

“This,” Wade, 41, said Saturday, “is basketball heaven. To be able to end your career and say that you’re going to basketball heaven, that’s what movies are made of, that’s what books are written about.”

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. In all, there will be 12 inductees.

“To be in this class with some of the greatest players, international players, that’s ever played this game, with Tony, Pau and Dirk, I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Wade said. “And I’m just super honored to be a part of this class, and all the coaches that are a part of this class.”

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.

But Wade said Saturday that the journey began well before, as he reflected on the path to this moment.

“I went back to the very start of finding the love for the game of basketball and why I started doing it,” he said. “I went back to my first coach, which is my father. I went back to my support system at the beginning, and that 17-year Dwyane who decided to put everything he had into his dream.

“And here I go, 20-something years later, I’m able to sit here on the stage and say that I think my hard work paid off. So I’m just very, very thankful and very humbled in this moment.”

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.

Unlike those, Wade becomes the first player drafted by the Heat to be elected to the Hall, doing it on the first ballot.

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’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 said he will savor induction weekend, pausing to reflect on how Bryant never got the chance.

“The moment they say that you’re in, it’s a whole different wave of emotions,” he said. “You never want to take anything for granted. And like Pau, I share a brother in Kobe Bryant, and all of us, we share a brother who didn’t get an opportunity to take these steps that we’re taking today. So I think just all of us are really numb in this moment, just really taking it all in, because we understand the importance of each day. And so I’m just happy to get to this day and can’t wait to get to August 11th and 12th.”

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.

“I’m just thankful to have a father that really saw something in me and then pushed me to play this game of basketball even when I didn’t want to,” Wade said. “And so, dad, thank you for being hard on me.”

Also selected to enter the Hall in August were Jim Valvano, Gene Keady, Gary Blair, David Hixon, Gene Bess and the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s team,


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