MIAMI – Less than a minute into Dwyane Wade’s Miami homecoming, the Bulls guard (still sounds weird) got the ball near the free throw line. The buzz in the crowd started to grow and Wade decided to play along.
Wade took a hard dribble before stepping back for an 18 footer.
The crowd would have to wait for its first non-Heat Wade highlight.
About four minutes later, Wade floated into the lane and lofted an eight-footer. After 20,364 points, Wade finally recorded two against the Miami Heat, the only team he had not scored against.
By the end of the night, the man who spent 13 seasons in Miami finished with 13 points against his old team in the Bulls’ 98-95 win.
“Weirdest basketball I’ve ever played in my life,” Wade said. “I couldn’t wait until it was over.”
Wade did not have a game that will go down as one of his most memorable. For the second time in a week, he struggled on the second night of a back-to-back, shooting 5-of-17 and missing all four of his three-point attempts.
“I thought I’d shoot better,” Wade said, “since I’ve known these rims for a while.”
Wade, though, got the last laugh, making two free throws with 13.2 seconds remaining to seal the Bulls win. Wade finally felt like the enemy on the play that got him to the line when he lost the in-bound pass out of bounds but oversold a slight nudge by Justise Winslow to draw the foul with the Bulls (5-4) leading by two points.
“I got the vet call on that one,” Wade said. “I appreciate it for him giving me one.”
The play resulted in Wade hearing boos for the first time as he stepped to the line. His two free throws gave the Bulls a four-point lead.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if Wade oversold the foul.
“If it was last year, he got pushed out of bounds,” Spoelstra said. “This year, he was selling it.”
Here is Wade’s night by the numbers:
* One point for each year he spent with the Heat (13).
* One free throw for every championship (3).
* One missed shot for every All-Star appearance (12).
* One assist for every ovation (4).
And one three pointer for every conversation he’s had with Heat president Pat Riley since leaving Miami (0).
The saga of the unsent email was solved when Riley said he finally sent the document to Wade.
“There has been a reach out on my part,” Riley said tonight. “Very poignant. I hope he gets it.”
Wade acknowledged that he received the emails.
“I did look at my emails today and I got emails from him,” Wade said. “I haven’t had time to read them yet. I’ll take time on the phone somewhere to read them.”
Wade’s night started when walked into the arena, slowly making his way to the Bulls locker room as a throng of photographers captured his every step.
“It feels like a playoff game,” he said, soaking it in.
Finally, he stepped onto the court in a uniform other than the Heat’s for pregame warmups. First ovation.
About 30 minutes later he was introduced by public address announcer Mike Baiamonte the exact same way as he was when he played 13 seasons for the Heat.
“No. 3, Dwyaaaaaane Wade!”
Wade’s first basket was the third ovation before the longest and loudest of the night inspired by the goose-bump inspiring tribute video that came during the game’s first time out. The video played the usual highlights from when Wade was drafted No. 5 overall in 2003 to the three championships he helped bring the Heat.
When it ended, Wade walked onto the court acknowledging the fans by waving and blowing kisses. The crowd broke out into a chant of “D-Wade, D-Wade, D-Wade.”
By then Wade was into the game and able to control his emotions. He said the most emotional he got was following the game when he “hugged certain people.”
Among them were several ex-teammates and members of owner Micky Arison’s family.
But despite the successful homecoming, Wade did not get the one thing he said he was looking forward to the most.
Before the game, Wade said he hoped his closest friend on the team, Udonis Haslem, would get into the game.
“I wish I got that opportunity, that’s what I was probably looking forward to the most,” Wade said. “But I definitely wanted to see him on the other side. I definitely was going to get the ball call a pick-and-roll with his guy and try to get a switch.”
But Haslem never got off the bench and Spoelstra was genuinely upset at himself for not allowing the close friends to have their moment.
“I’m going to really kick myself for that,” Spoelstra said. “I really am. There’s really no excuse on my part.”
Spoelstra said he planned on inserting Haslem in the second quarter but just didn’t get to it.
“I wish I would have,” he said.