Saturday, Dwyane Wade will become the first. Friday, he said he won’t be the last.
When the 13-time All-Star guard is enshrined Saturday into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield,. Mass., Wade will become the first Miami Heat draft pick so honored.
Friday, at the Hall’s pre-induction media session, Wade said he was grateful to carry that distinction, but that he also hopes to stand as a trailblazer for the franchise he helped lead to three NBA championships before retiring in 2019.
“Doing something for the first time feels good, doesn’t it? It sounds good. But it sets the bar,” said Wade, selected at No. 5 out of Marquette in 2003. “And I’m always about setting the bar, setting the standard. I like being the first to do stuff. Why not, right? But it’s not just for me. Because someone set a bar for me.”
While Wade is the first Heat draft pick to enter the Hall, several former Heat players have made the grade to Springfield, with Wade citing 2014 inductee Alonzo Mourning, whose franchise scoring record of 9,459 points Wade not only surpassed, but more than doubled.
“Alonzo set a bar in Miami before me,” Wade, 41, said Friday. “He had 10,000-some-odd points, I had to get over that. And I set mine, and somebody will get over it. And that’s how it should be. We should want to set the bar higher for the next generation to have something to see and something to go and try to emulate and try to accomplish.
“So it means something to me that I’m the first one in the rich history of the Miami Heat, of all the great players that were drafted, all the great players that played through that. But I’m homegrown in that sense, so it’s special, it’s very special. And I wear that as a badge of honor. But, like I said, I don’t want to be the last one. I want someone else that the Heat have drafted to be able to stand on this stage one day and I would love to see them into the Hall of Fame as the second.”
It is why Wade was particularly taken by a tribute video the Heat posted on social media in advance of the weekend whirlwind.
“The Miami Heat released a video yesterday and a lot of my teammates over the years sent in videos and I think I’m most proud of being a pretty good teammate,” he said. “I did some amazing things individually of course, that’s why I’m standing here. But I played the game to do something and be a part of something that was just bigger than me. And being able to see teammates pay their love, pay their respect, pay their support, that’s what I’m most proud of, that I have relationships with guys.
“I always say that legacy to me is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. And that’s what matters, what my teammates say about me. And I was a tough teammate to some people, of course, as a leader. But I think I was a pretty good teammate. I think I was selfless. That’s what matters. All the points and all the things that people like to focus on, those don’t matter to me. What matters is I accomplished some amazing things with my teammates that will be forever.”
Scheduled as the final inductee to speak at the Saturday ceremony scheduled for 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (NBA TV), Wade on Friday already found himself emotional.
“It’s so hard to put this journey into words,” he said. “I’ve been trying in every interview, and the only thing I can come back to is basketball has been everything to me, because it’s allowed me and my family to see things and be places, go places, and experience things that we never imagined that we would. So, I go right to all the people along the journey. I think the cool thing about this experience for me has been being able to see people that have been part of this journey.
“It’s just been incredible. I’m having to take a little time away once I leave this weekend and really sit on the beach somewhere, just like look around and be like, ‘What? Me? Huh?’ So I’m still that kid that doesn’t even understand why I’m here.”