Minutes later — when Wade took the court — the crowd became even louder.
Throughout Miami’s 113-108 win Saturday against the Wizards, Wade was showered with applause. He received “M-V-P” chants while at the free throw line. Even various”Let’s Go Heat” cheers overtook the arena.
For one last time, Wade was the center of attention in the District — and he delivered. The 37-year-old scored 20 points, 11 of which came in the fourth.
Yet for all of the theatrics, the Wizards aren’t so sure why Wade is retiring in the first place.
“I’ve been telling him since he announced that he would retire that he doesn’t need to retire,” forward Jeff Green said. “He’s playing amazing man, at his own pace. He’s playing well for them. Doing what he does. He’s been doing it his whole career.”
“He’s too good to retire,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I hope he changes his mind.”
Saturday’s reaction wasn’t out of the ordinary for the 16-year veteran. Since he announced this would be his final season back in September, Wade has traveled from city-to-city and received similar praise.
And typically after each game, Wade swaps his jersey with another player he respects.
That didn’t happen on Saturday — Wade had already exchanged jerseys with Wizards star Bradley Beal earlier in the season — but the three-time NBA champion stayed around to sign autographs just outside the visiting tunnel.
“That’s just love man,” Wade said. “I was tired and just seeing their reaction, sometimes it gets a little scary over there, but it’s just love. I appreciate it. I’ve given everything to the game that I’ve wanted to give, and that’s what I’m giving back.”
Wade, though, has played like a guy who needs to walk away. Even at 37, he’s averaging 14.2 points and four assists in 25.5 minutes per game.
He might not be the MVP-caliber player he was in past seasons, but still has the footwork to catch players off guard. Speaking to reporters afterward, Beal admitted he bit on Wade’s signature jab step multiple times.
“I’d have to catch myself because If he’d have gone by me, I’d have been stuck,” Beal said. “He still has game. … I think he has more (left in the tank), but that’s his decision.”
Brooks, meanwhile, has an unconventional idea to get Wade to stick around.
“The NBA needs to just fine the Miami Heat for allowing him to retire, just fine them; just flat-out fine the whole team,” Brooks said. “They should not allow him to retire. He’s too good. He’s too fun to watch.
“Just look at the crowd. He draws a crowd wherever he goes.”
Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.