Wade goes out a winner at UC as Bulls lose 10th straight
There hasn't been much good news for the Bulls at the United Center this season.
On Saturday, the rebuild took a back seat to a farewell to Dwyane Wade, the Chicago native and certain Hall-of-Famer. Wade played one season with the Bulls, but is best known for inflicting losses on his hometown team.
This night was no exception as Miami pulled away late to win 117-103 and deal the Bulls their 10th straight loss.
Wade walked off the court to an ovation with two minutes left and then took his time making his way through a crowd of well-wishers to exit the tunnel for the final time at the UC.
"No sadness. It's joyous," Wade said. "For me today, the only emotion I had that was close to sad was that there were two people in my life that passed away last year that couldn't be here to share in this last one. My grandma wasn't here and my agent Henry Thomas wasn't here. Those are two people I wish I could look around and seen, but outside of that, it was joyous just to see and hear so much appreciation for what I've been able to do."
During a first-quarter time out, the Bulls paid tribute to Wade on the video board. The highlights shown were all from his season with the Bulls in 2016-17 and the video was split between basketball action and community service.
Wade checked in a couple minutes after the tribute video, at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter, and wasted no time putting his stamp on the game. He started with a corner 3-pointer, drew a foul and hit both free throws, then tipped in his own miss.
Wade eventually finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. He hit 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range, a skill he never mastered during his 16 seasons in the NBA.
Before the game, Wade shared some trivia from his first United Center appearance on Dec. 29, 2003. The Bulls were coached by Bill Cartwright at the time and their starting lineup included Kendall Gill and Jamal Crawford.
"My first time coming here, I wasn't going to play," Wade said before the game. "I hurt my wrist. I saw (Michael) Jordan the night before and he said, 'I can't wait to see you tomorrow.' And I was like, 'Well, I guess I'm going to play.'"
Jordan, who had just finished his two-year stint with the Wizards, was in the building as a spectator that night. Wade had 10 points and 8 assists in a Miami win.
Saturday's game was tied 70-70 with 4:21 left in the third quarter, but Miami pulled away quickly. The surge began with an 8-0 run as Wade knocked down a 3-pointer between a layup and 3 by shooting guard Josh Richardson.
Richardson always seems to play well in Chicago and he was the game's leading scorer Saturday with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. As a team, Miami knocked down 7 of 8 shots from 3-poin range in the fourth quarter and the lead grew to as many as 19.
"I wasn't coming off that floor until we got that win," Wade said. "We needed it. That's how I wanted to end my last game here. I didn't want to go out and score 30, that doesn't matter as much as getting a win for me, so that was important."
The Bulls had three 20-point scorers -- Zach LaVine had 22, Bobby Portis 21 and Lauri Markkanen 20. The only other Bulls player in double figures was Jabari Parker with 11 points.
This was Wade's 36th game at the United Center as a visiting player -- 26 in the regular season and 10 in the playoffs. He ensured a winning record as an opponent with a 19-17 record.
"It definitely felt different than any other city, but it was a good different," Wade said after the contest. "It was a joyous time for me to be here.
"My vision of basketball started watching the Chicago Bulls, my favorite player of all-time Michael Jordan, Scottie (Pippen). I can go down the list of all the Bulls players. This city, the Chicago Bulls name means a lot to me. It will always mean a lot to me."