A 13-year career with the Miami Heat ended on Wednesday night for Dwyane Wade, who agreed to a two-year deal with his home town Chicago Bulls.
The departure provided a bitter end for one of the franchise’s greatest ever players.
“Miami dared a very proud man to go home, and that man’s best friend [LeBron James] just won a title by going home,” a source told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Wade was born in Chicago and grew up near the city as a Bulls fan. He jumped at the opportunity to return home after the Heat—operating under president Pat Riley—were only willing to offer the 12-time All-Star a two-year, $40 million deal.
Wade and the Bulls agreed to a deal worth $47 million.
Acrimony grew between player and team when the Heat made a serious run at Kevin Durant in free agency. While Riley and the Heat were willing to move money around to get Durant a max deal, the franchise wasn’t as open to doing the same for Wade, who helped deliver the team three NBA titles.
“I truly loved Dwyane, but families grow, change and get on with another life,” Riley said. “He will always be a part of us. ALWAYS! And no more bruises and enough fighting. Let’s just fly above it if we can and never forget. I feel his pain and pride for what pushed him over the ledge. Been there. Forever, for always, your coach I will be. FOREVER!”
The Heat drafted Wade with the fifth pick in the famous 2003 NBA draft. He averaged 23.7 points, 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds over 13 seasons, while leading Miami to its first ever title in 2006 and eventually becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
The Heat played hardball with an all-time great player and lost. Now 34 and leaving the only franchise he’s ever known, Wade will play out the last of his good years with a team he grew up loving.