By NICHOLAS BRUENS
At the end of the 2015-16 NBA basketball season, Miami Heat fans were nervous. Dwyane Wade, the greatest player in franchise history was a free agent. Fans new Wade was older now but still a “Heat Lifer” in many fans minds. As nervous as the finds were, they were also just as confident that basketball mastermind, Pat Riley would keep him in South Beach for a few more years and maybe the res of his career.
But on July 16, their worst fear was realized. The former NBA Finals MVP, Scoring Champ and 12-time All Star signed a contract with the Chicago Bulls. And since that day in July, every heat fan was waiting for Nov. 10. The day Dwyane returns to the American Airlines Arena to take on the Heat as a Bull.
I was lucky enough to attend this game and I was excited. There was so much anticipation from the crowd getting to see there former idol again. But with all storylines going into the game, the news media was unsure of how the crowd would react. After all, he did leave the city for another team that one could argue is not much better than the situation in Miami. Also, there was the Riley vs. Wade storyline pitting the two figures against one another.
But despite all the speculation and reason to boo D-Wade, what I witnessed was an act of genuine love by the Miami Heat community toward a man who have 14 years of his life to a franchise and never wavered for those 14 years. There was not a single person seated in the AAA and all were applauding, cheering, and chanting his name. Even though he left, it is still “Miami-Wade County.”
This great moment was exactly what the media was hoping for and they had a field day. Multiple tweets, articles and TV spots were put out on the return. And in every single one he was the local hero coming home to a warm welcome.
Wade ended the night by reminding the fans he still has it when he hit the two free throws that secured the win for Chicago.