Post-Dwyane Era: Moving on to New Beginnings
Last night was weird. Dwyane Wade wore a Chicago Bulls jersey and it was sad. But not sad like in the Faults in Our Stars kind of sense, but in an “I-saw-my-ex-out-in-public-and-they-didn’t-look-as-good-as-when-we-dated, but-you-still-wish-they-were-with-you-even-though-it-ended-kind-of-crappy” kind of way.
Mouthful aside, it felt almost cathartic to see
Dwayne (ermm… Duane? Darren?) Dwyane play in another uniform. In a way, it delineates an end both the organization and fanbase needed. This is a transition point to the future as Miami moves into a much-needed youth movement.
He’s meant a lot to so people down here. When he finally left so many people were recounting what he did for them personally, how he made them fall in love with basketball. It was a personal connection to an athlete that many of us didn’t really know.
His relationship with Miami was different. He was a star that Miami saw grow, not just as a ball player but as a person. So much of Miami’s basketball fandom isn’t passed down by our fathers or mothers; it’s something that a generation of millennials took up on their own. A lot of our parents are immigrants from South America where basketball is an afterthought. Dwyane Wade is ours. We have aged and grown along with Wade. He was a part of people’s lives that made basketball their own.
And now he is gone—still wearing red and white but for a different city. It is indeed over, it’s something that Miami has to cope with. But tonight the new-look HEAT play their first game of the post-Wade era and the youth movement is real. Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson are all players expected to be major contributors this season and all are 27 years old or younger.
Erik Spoelstra is going to finally have the young legs to play the up-tempo offense he has probably been dying to run. And while this HEAT team might not be up to the standard this franchise has set for itself; it has incited this feeling of excitement, curiosity and even optimism.
This team is probably not going to win over fringe basketball fans or usher in a new generation of HEAT fans like the Big 3 did, or the early Wade years. But it’s going to be a loveable underdog with no expectations. No storylines of LeBron James leaving and how they will bounce back with two other all-stars. No conference finals expectations with the acquisition of Goran Dragic and the return of Chris Bosh.
For other fanbases, this actually might be kind of boring. But for people that have been following this team for a while? Sounds like hella’ fun. Just young basketball, something this franchise hasn’t seen in quite some time.
And while Wade’s absence still stings, and I wish he was back, this is part of what comes in the sports circle of life. Nothing is forever and situations change fluidly. So just as quickly as Miami lost its stars, it may have new ones already in wait. It’s time to move on, as painful and as hard as it may be.
The HEAT make their preseason debut against the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center, and will be broadcast on Sun Sports.