Purple and gold. Celtic green. Even Knickerbocker orange and Philadelphia red, white and blue. When it comes to America’s most storied NBA franchises, like a Bull seeing red, you know the primary colours.
Yet, it’s white-hot in Miami when it comes to cornerstone championship franchises that can be taken as “red” in black and white, like a San Antonio Spur.
From Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, to LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and all the big fellas like Shaquille O’Neal in-between, the Miami Heat have had many legends raised to the rafters, along with the banners they put up there. But who is the ultimate Heatle?
Do we really have to ask?
This is Wade County, after all.
And soon, outside South Beach’s Kaseya Arena, every night you attend a game, you’ll be greeted by the man himself…in bronze.
The Florida franchise has just announced their latest project. Building a statue for the man who led them to their first of three championships, before the big-three formed like Voltron over a televised decision that became a player’s revolution.
“When we retired his jersey in February 2020, I said Dwyane was the face of this franchise forever, and I meant it,” team President Pat Riley said during a ceremony honouring Wade’s career. “Dwyane’s legacy is a towering one not only for the Miami Heat but for Miami-Wade county. I can’t think of a better way to honour him than by memorializing that legacy.”
The Hall called last year, and now this fall will see even more fame, immortalized and forged in a new foundation.
Wade holds Miami Heat franchise records in points, assists, steals, games, minutes and the world in his hands. Forget about what rappers Cam’ron and Ma$e said about his nail polish in their popular podcast (‘It Is What It Is’). Nobody painted Heat court culture like the number three that’s up there with rarefied air. And another number of a former running mate.
Paul Pierce might not like it, but the truth is, he beefs with everybody these days. Yet, not even Wade was down with the Heat as long as Udonis Haslem. Even Dwyane had stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his hometown Chicago Bulls. Dedicated like Dirk in Dallas, Udonis spent all of his 20 years in Miami.
So it’s only right his number 40 takes its pride of place next to Wade’s 3 and the trio of banners Haslem helped raise. A true championship contributor and unsung hero. From the starting days as a key player, to the years put out to pasture as a mentor to the next Heat legends like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
Joining those franchise favourites, we were talking about, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the rafters like the King one day will be, Haslem is Heat Culture to the core. All snarling passion, tense sinew and muscled up enforcement. The kind of player Pat Riley dreamed of when he left the blood in The Garden of the New York Knicks for the talents of South Beach.
“Look at the list of the guys I’m sitting with,” Udonis said in his speech. “That’s what’s huge to me. That’s what makes me feel so amazing is the core group of guys that I’m sitting with. Pat Riley ain’t just putting anybody up there.”
But like Drake said, “(he) ain’t just anybody!”
The OG could even have his own statue. He was around the Heat for so long like outstretched hands in the winter, that you’d be forgiven for thinking he was frozen in time, or set in stone.
Two icons in this Jerry West logo league, honoured in the same week for the one franchise that they made their own.
Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem did it for the culture. There’s no Heat without Miami’s hottest, burning stars.