Hometown hero, fierce rival: Remembering Dwyane Wade's history in Chicago

 
 
Updated 1/18/2019 2:57 PM
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  • The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade gets in a traffic jam in a December game at Orlando. He returns to the United Center for his final game in his hometown Saturday night.

    The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade gets in a traffic jam in a December game at Orlando. He returns to the United Center for his final game in his hometown Saturday night. Associated Press

  • Dwyane Wade played one season in a Bulls uniform.

    Dwyane Wade played one season in a Bulls uniform. Associated Press

Dwyane Wade always seemed like Chicago's under-the-radar basketball star.

He wasn't an unknown talent when he played at Richards High School from 1996-2000, but he wasn't nationally ranked, either. Darius Miles and Imari Sawyer were a couple of Illinois prospects who were more hyped from that class.

In the era of one-and-done college stars, it's almost hard to believe Wade sat out his freshman year at Marquette for academic reasons. Because of that, his 2003 Final Four run caught the basketball world by surprise.

The story of the 2003 NBA draft has been told many times. John Paxson thought Miami would take Chris Kaman at No. 5 and Wade would be there for the Bulls with the No. 7 pick. They settled for Kirk Hinrich instead.

Another story told about that draft was Pat Riley wanted Kaman and everyone in the Heat organization knew it. Riley was smart enough to recognize his scouts might be reluctant to disagree with the boss, so he used a secret ballot. He told the scouts to write down which player they would choose and put the answers in an envelope. Wade was the unanimous choice.

And the rest is history, mostly positive from the Miami side. Wade, who turned 37 Thursday, is scheduled to play his last game at the United Center Saturday when the Bulls host the Heat.

Including the one season he wore a Bulls uniform, here's a look at some of the most memorable games Wade has played in his hometown.

Dec. 29, 2003: First trip home

In his United Center debut, Wade scored 10 points and Miami won, with retired Wizards guard Michael Jordan making a rare appearance in the audience. The Bulls starters that night were Hinrich, Jamal Crawford, Kendall Gill, Jerome Williams and Antonio Davis. Eddy Curry, Eddie Robinson and Rick Brunson were among those who played off the bench.

March 18, 2006: Struggling

This game sort of epitomized how Wade didn't play well in Chicago during his early years. Miami won this game 85-84, but Wade went 1-for-8 from the field with 10 turnovers and scored 13 of his 15 points at the foul line. "Out in Chicago I never play good," he said that night. "I have a long career ahead of me, so one day I will get one good game in."

May 4, 2006: Playoff victory

Wade scored 24 points and Shaquille O'Neal had 30 as Miami clinched a hard-fought first-round playoff series by winning Game 6 at the UC. Wade fell hard to the floor and injured his hip during Game 5 in Miami, took a painkilling injection at halftime and rallied the Heat to a win.

Dec. 27, 2006: No friends here

Wade played just six minutes on this night and after the game, Riley accused Hinrich of causing a wrist injury. "Hinrich pulled his hand. Hinrich grabbed his hand, which he does all of the time," Riley said. "That's what he does anytime Dwyane comes off screens." James Posey was ejected later in the game for knocking down Luol Deng, so it went both ways.

Jan. 15, 2011: Power Trio

After Wade flirted with joining the Bulls in the summer of 2010, Miami's superteam visited the UC for the first time without an injured LeBron James. Wade scored 33 points, Derrick Rose had 34 and the Bulls won on a Kyle Korver 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

Feb. 24, 2011: MVP talk

With the Big Three on the floor, the Bulls beat Miami again 93-89 on a late 3-pointer by Deng. Wade scored 34 points. An interesting sidebar was before the game, both Chris Bosh and Juwan Howard endorsed Rose for MVP, while Wade chose James.

May 15, 2011: Slammed

Will Taj Gibson's monster dunk over Wade in Game 1 be included in Saturday's tribute video?

May 26, 2011: Closing it out

Miami finished Game 5 of the ECF with an 18-3 run after the Bulls led by 12 with about three minutes left. Wade started the comeback with a pair of baskets and added a 4-point play.

Mar. 4, 2012: Chicago record

Wade scored his Chicago-best of 36 points and James added 35, but the Bulls won 106-102 without Rose. This was the underappreciated "John Lucas III Game," featuring 24 points from the Tom Thibodeau favorite.

March 27, 2014: Streak ends

This was one of the most memorable games of the Power Trio era, as the Bulls ended Miami's 27-game winning streak without Rose or Joakim Noah. Wade scored 18 and Deng led the Bulls with 28. The Heat fell six games short of the NBA record of 33 straight wins by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

Oct. 27, 2016: Bulls debut

Wade called it a childhood dream to play for the Bulls. He started off by scoring 22 points in a 105-99 win over Boston. He knocked down a clinching 3-pointer with 26.3 seconds left, then made the throat-slash gesture to the crowd.

Dec. 2, 2016: World Series bet

James walked into the building wearing a full Cubs uniform after losing a World Series bet with Wade. Then the Bulls beat the Cavs 111-105 as Wade scored 24 and Jimmy Butler 26. After the game, James warned the Cavs that their championship honeymoon was over.

Jan. 25, 2017: Tough love

Atlanta ended the game with a 19-4 run to beat the Bulls and in the locker room, Wade let loose on his younger teammates. "I don't know that they care enough," Wade said. "Games like this are supposed to hurt you. I don't know if that's in the guys in this locker room. Hopefully they can prove me wrong."

The criticism seemed to signal the end of the Bulls' Three Alphas experiment, but Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo got together and suggested a game plan that ended up beating Boston in the first two games of their first-round playoff series. After the Bulls took the 2-0 lead, Rondo broke his thumb and the Bulls lost four straight. A couple months later, they traded Butler to Minnesota and Wade was bought out. He's been back to the United Center twice since then, last season with the Cavs and earlier this year with Miami.

So how will Wade be remembered in his hometown? It's always tough when a local guy turns into your team's biggest rival. But respect for Wade should be spread wide.

He rubbed some people the wrong way when he criticized his Bulls teammates, but Wade has almost always carried himself well during his NBA career. He comes back to Chicago regularly in the summers for his Wade's World charity weekend.

Wade is a normal-sized guy by NBA standards at 6-foot-3. He survived some tough times growing up and put a ton of work into becoming a superstar. He carried the Heat to an NBA title in his third season, long before James and Bosh joined in. It just happened that he stepped over the Bulls a few times along the way.

Circumstances helped ensure Wade would never be Chicago's most popular homegrown athlete, but his story is one to be proud of.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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