Dwyane Wade just signed a one-year deal with the Cavaliers that will reunite him with pal LeBron James, but Cleveland is not where the Chicago native plans to end his career. The Bulls, where Wade played last season, are out, too. Instead, Wade said, he aims to retire as a member of the Miami Heat, where he played 13 seasons from 2003 until 2016.
“Miami, the door’s always unlocked,” Wade told the Associated Press on Thursday. “One day I want to retire in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how that will happen, but I definitely want to make sure that when I decide to hang it up, that jersey is on. Whether it’s being back there or signing a one-day deal like Paul Pierce [did with the Boston Celtics this summer], I want to make sure that I go out the way I came in.”
Wade’s comments come less than a week after Heat President Pat Riley hinted he was interested in seeing Wade return.
“I feel great about our relationship that we had over the 13 years,” Riley said (via the AP). “And anything that happens from a personnel standpoint down the road, or any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that.”
Riley’s latest remarks echo those from last year when he talked about Wade’s departure to the Bulls, a departure he blamed himself for at the time.
“I have great regret I didn’t put myself in the middle of [salary negotiations] and immerse myself in the middle of it and get in a canoe and paddle to the Mediterranean if I had to,” Riley said at a 2016 news conference. “I wasn’t there in the middle of the negotiation, and that’s my job. It’s not going to be the same without him.”
Around the same time, Riley said (via the Sun Sentinel), “There will always be a key under the mat.”
A similar phrase even ended up in full-page advertisements in several South Florida newspapers courtesy of another farewell gesture from the Heat.
Here's the full-page ad the Heat placed in three South Florida newspapers today for Dwyane Wade. pic.twitter.com/72KVDQRdd1
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 8, 2016
Wade, 35, has not made clear when he plans to retire, although he’s been questioned about the subject for years. In 2015, he told a fan on Twitter that he’ll retire “when I can no longer play.”
When I can no longer play..averaging 20 plus a game at 33 yrs old.. I think I'll stay around for alil while.. https://t.co/jZQblxjKAU
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 6, 2015
Wade, a 12-time all-star, put up some of his worst stats last year with the Bulls, shooting just 43.4 percent from the field. His second-lowest average came the year before, when he shot 45.6 percent in his final year with the Heat. Wade, however, had better luck from beyond the three-point line last season, putting up a career high of 31 percent, a stark contrast to what he did the year prior when he was hitting just 15.9 percent, a career low.
Wade, who ended his last season early due to an arm injury, will hope to reignite the magic he had with James on the Heat when the pair won two NBA Finals titles together. (Wade won an additional title in 2006, before James arrived.) Whatever happens, however, the pair is looking forward to playing together again before Wade retires — whenever that will be.
“It’s like the first day of school and your best friend is in your class,” James said (via Fox 8) this week. “It’s going to be fun.”