The Next Wade – Literally (A Father/Son story)

Feature3 years ago6 min readGreg Sylvander

The Dwyane Wade era is officially over.

The final home game, road game and press conference. The cleaning out of the locker, all complete. Even the day he spent taking photos with Miami Heat employees, something you never see stars do, has came and went.

Yeah, it probably hasn’t sunk in fully with Heat fans yet, but Life After Wade (do we label that L.A.W? hopefully not Murphy’s) is now a reality.

The inevitable search for “the next Dwyane Wade” is what comes next and that isn’t going to be an easy find. Truthfully, no Heat player should ever be expected to meet or exceed the career accomplishments of Wade. Yes, he is as good as it will ever get. And that’s perfectly a perfectly beautiful bar to be set.

However, as last season unfolded, it was Dwyane’s son, Zaire Wade, found closer to the team than ever. Fans couldn’t help but contemplate the allure of seeing the literal next Wade become the next member of the Heat in the future.

Zaire Wade is getting closer to choosing where he will play college basketball, with some scouts predicting him a one and done prospect, heading for the NBA draft by 2022 or 2023. Don’t get me wrong, I love the YouTube clips and fun discussion but, in fairness, the kid has a ton of basketball left to play and much to prove. He deserves the time and opportunity to come into his own, as a basketball player and young man. We should largely let that process take shape before we start doing anything resembling serious analysis of his game in any way. Much less putting the type of pressure that comes with being “the next Wade”.

With the success of other sons-of-former-players highly prevalent in the league today, it is hard to ignore what appears to be some innate qualities that former players pass on to their children. It makes sense, when a young athlete has the stuff you can’t teach in his flesh and bones, plus the benefit of being taught the teachable things from dad, the NBA professional.

“Definitely like a sponge, he is going to get all the info from his dad in how to take his moves and how to get better — so, I think that’s great.” Heat guard Goran Dragic told Five Reasons Sports recently in Brooklyn. “Probably he wants to have his own game but at the same time he wants to surpass his dad. And that’s going to be a tough thing to do. But why not? Who knows?”

Watching Zaire Wade attend All Star Weekend by his father’s side in Charlotte, to celebrating with Heat players on the bench as the season ended, punctuated by the father-son Heat jersey exchange on Miami’s home floor – the links between the Heat and The Wade’s are undeniable. It just feels right.

Zaire Wade blossoming into a star player and following in his father’s footsteps to lead the Heat in the future sounds like only a story book narrative someone from Dwyane’s lineage could provide.

But how does Dwyane and Zaire’s game compare?  Zaire stands 6’2’ 175 lbs and projects as a full time point guard in the future, which is a bit different than the tweener questions that surrounded the NBA draft prospect version of DWade. However, Zaire also has another distinctive quality that sets him apart from his father.

“Zaire is a lefty, so he has a way different game right now.” Dragic added.

Different in look and feel, but similar in the ways that allowed his father to play point guard during is rookie season in 2003-04 and carry heavy ball handling responsibilities throughout this entire career.

“On the court they both have very good vision.” Josh Richardson told Five Reasons Sports. “That’s like the first thing I ever saw about “Z” He can pass, he sees a lot of things. That’s probably a huge similarity point.”

But more than any specific basketball related trait, the thing that people see from Zaire that flashes Flash the most is that which can’t be quantified in stats or game film.

“Just their charisma and passion for the game. That’s something that’s obvious.” Heat point guard Justise Winslow told Five Reasons. “Their unselfishness, I’ve seen Zaire play. He’s a great passer and DWade is an underrated playmaker and passer in this league. That’s something that goes unnoticed. I see the charisma and the passion in Zaire’s eyes Just watching his dad, watching him play, he has that “it” factor for sure.”

“It” factor.

Nobody has had that more in Miami than Dwyane Wade.

But if anybody has the perfect combination of Wade DNA and acclaimed “Heat DNA”, it is the kid who grew up being held by Pat Riley in pressers and spending summers with the Banana Boat crew.

We once told Dwyane that we will always leave a key under the mat for him anytime he wants to come home. Thankfully he came home and made his exit as grand as his entrance.

As for Zaire, we made you a copy of that same key. Your dad can show you where it’s placed underneath the mat.

We sure do hope you find your way home. How cool would that be?