Post-Dwyane Wade, who is the face of South Florida sports?

After Dwyane Wade left for Chicago, a local writer asked his Twitter followers to name “the new face of Miami sports.”

“Dewan Huell,” Dewan Huell tweeted.

You have to admire his enthusiasm. Huell, a freshman forward for the University of Miami men’s basketball team, is a highly rated recruit but hasn’t played in a game yet, so his comments are a tad premature. They were borne of respect, given that Huell is one of countless Miami natives who grew up loving Wade. 

Now that Wade has left town, who is the most important local athlete, the face of South Florida sports? Scouring the major sports teams for potential candidates:

Can Giancarlo Stanton (left), Ryan Tannehill, Brad Kaaya, Aaron Ekblad or Hassan Whitewide capture South Florida's imagination? (Getty Images photos)
Can Giancarlo Stanton (left), Ryan Tannehill, Brad Kaaya, Aaron Ekblad or Hassan Whitewide capture South Florida’s imagination? (Getty Images photos)

[The Miami sports scene was a lot different pre-Dwyane Wade]

[Wade’s message to fans]

The Dolphins

The Heat’s rise coincided with a long dry spell for the area’s bedrock franchise. The Fins haven’t won a Super Bowl in nearly two generations (1973), and scored their last playoff win when Wade was a freshman at Marquette (2000). They’ve made the playoffs once since then. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill might be South Florida’s leading man if he proves capable of leading his team to a few successful seasons; local opinion varies, to say the least, on whether he has the goods to do that. With a $96 million contract extension, he’ll get at least two more years to sort things out. If the Fins develop one of the NFL’s feared defenses, perhaps defensive end Cameron Wake or tackle Ndamukong Suh will capture the area’s attention.

The Marlins

Though the Marlins haven’t been very good either, they employ two of the must-watch athletes in town. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and right-hander Jose Fernandez produce highlight-reel moments on the regular. Stanton’s mammoth homers and Fernandez’ video-game stuff get gobbled up on social media. They are two of the franchise’s best ever, but Marlins Park is rarely the hot place to be. Distrust in the team’s ownership is one of the reasons for this, as is a playoff resume that includes two World Series titles (1997 and 2003), two subsequent fire sales, and nothing more. The Marlins, 2.5 games behind in the NL Wild Card race, need a hot second half to make anyone forget about Wade’s painful exit.

The Hurricanes 

If only the Dolphins had a Brad Kaaya. UM’s junior quarterback, who might be a first-round NFL draft pick if he decides to leave after this season, has helped keep the Hurricanes afloat in his three seasons. He is one of college football’s best passers, but UM hasn’t been nationally relevant in more than a decade. Miami used to be a Canes town, so if Kaaya and new coach Mark Richt can break a long stretch of local malaise and bring the program back to elite status, they’ll be the talk of the town. Men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga has done a wonderful job, reaching the Sweet 16 twice in four seasons, but ‘The U’ was built on football success.

The Panthers 

Coincidentally, the team held a press conference to discuss an eight-year contract extension for young star defenseman Aaron Ekblad on Thursday, while South Florida was still reeling from the Wade news. Ekblad and forward Aleksander Barkov will be with the franchise long-term, so they will build up a new generation of followers if the Cats keep winning. Elder statesmen Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo are more recognizable to the average fan, but the veterans won’t be around as long.

The Heat 

Maybe it’s up to you, Hassan Whiteside. The 7-footer, who seemed surprised to learn of the Wade news, agreed to a max contract last week that will keep him in Miami for the next four years. He will enter next season as arguably the Heat’s most popular player. If he continues producing at a high level, there’s no reason he couldn’t be the most beloved guy in town. If Chris Bosh returns to form, that title could go to the affable forward, the last surviving member of the Big Three. Maybe a new star in town, acquired by the Heat during its rebuild, could capture the hearts of fans.

But he probably won’t do it like Wade.

What say you? Who’s next?

‘White Cop Black Victim’: Man protests outside Miami Heat arena

MIAMI — With much attention of the sporting world and Miami sports fans on Dwyane Wade, a man came to AmericanAirlines Arena to offer a different perspective. 

The man, who gave his name as Adam B., 26, said he is from Melbourne and lived in Miami the past five years. He was frustrated after watching the TV news today, filled with scenes from two deadly police shootings in the last 24 hours involving black victims and white officers. He said people should be more concerned with that than “whether Dwyane Wade makes $50 or $60 million.”

With a marker, he wrote “White Cop Black Victim” five times on a cardboard sign, laid it at the front doors of the arena and took a picture. 

A security guard slowly approached, folded the sign and threw it in the trash, saying he supported what the man was doing but had to do his job. 

“I’ll put up another one,” the man said, patches of sweat on his t-shirt bearing the image of Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The security guard told him it would be discarded. 

He made one that said, “Who do they protect and serve?” and approached the building. The security guard asked him not to. He walked down the street to Bayfront Park, looking for people to listen to his message. 

This Dwyane Wade promo video won’t exist much longer

MIAMI — There are about two dozen advertisements and promo videos playing on the four-story video board outside AmericanAirlines Arena. Several of them feature Heat players. As of this morning, one of them focuses solely on an ex-Heat player. 

For posterity’s sake, we captured the video of Dwyane Wade, before it is taken out of rotation for good: 

Heat, NBA Twitter react to Dwyane Wade leaving Miami

Dwyane Wade left his house to go home.

Wade, the most important player in Heat history and a man on a short list of the greatest South Florida sports figures of all-time, is heading to the Chicago Bulls, signing a two-year deal worth $47 million, or, more than Pat Riley and the Heat wanted to pay him.

He is from Chicago, but Miami feels like he is theirs.

No kidding. Let’s take a spin through the various social media angles, shall we?

It didn’t take long for this to show up.

The night Miami was on top of the world.

Life comes at you fast, Hassan.

Heat fan reaction:

From Chicago writers (for Miami fans who want to feel better):

You’d think he won’t be doing so much longer.

RIP mentions of this guy who is definitely not Dwyane Wade.

Please don’t follow through on this.

There are going to be a lot of these conversations in South Florida today.

Sometimes, moving on is the best thing.