After 13 seasons with the Miami Heat which included 12 All-Star selections, 8 All-NBA selections and 3 NBA titles, Dwyane Wade was officially ready to sever ties with the only franchise he had ever known. It’s a crippling blow to a Miami organization that frequently referred to Wade as a “Heat lifer,” and a sad reminder that all good things must come to an end.
However, this was a good thing that didn’t have to come to an end quite yet.
Wade and Heat President Pat Riley are both to blame for this messy divorce, but it was Riley’s constant disrespect toward Wade that forced the superstar’s hand. Despite being the franchise’s all-time leader in points, assists and steals, in 13 seasons, Wade was NEVER the highest paid player on the team.
While some of that can be attributed to his sacrifice in helping lure LeBron James and Chris Bosh to South Beach in 2010, Wade has never felt repaid for what he has given to the Heat. Now two years removed from Miami’s last Finals appearance, Wade thought Miami would finally show their appreciation toward him by handing him a max contract.
He was very, very wrong.
Instead, Wade was put on the back-burner once again, as Riley was more interested in retaining Hassan Whiteside and winning the Kevin Durant Sweepstakes. Rather than sit idly by, Wade went out and created his own leverage. Wade managed to force a bidding war for his services between the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls that Miami simply couldn’t compete with.
The end result? Wade agreed to a two-year deal with his hometown Chicago Bulls that will earn him roughly the same amount of money he would’ve made in Miami (accounting for no income tax in Florida).
The move by Wade sent a clear message: the divide between he and Riley became personal.
In recent years, Riley hasn’t helped in smoothing over Wade’s frustrations, as Riley’s reputation as a cold, stubborn and ruthless negotiator oftentimes rubbed Wade the wrong way. Since losing LeBron back to Cleveland in 2014, Riley’s brilliance as a negotiator no longer seems to have the same allure. He whiffed on keeping LeBron in Miami, missed out on Durant coming to South Beach, and lost the franchise’s most beloved player out of pure hubris.
Two years ago, Riley and ‘The Heatles’ seemed to have it all. But fast forward to 2016, and all Riley is left with is Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Chris Bosh (maybe), Hassan Whiteside and a nice helping of humble pie.
Source: SB Nation