Dwyane Wade — the most important player in Miami Heat history, the guy at the heart of bringing the franchise three titles — is a member of the Chicago Bulls. That came after a summer where Wade felt he was lowballed and not respected by the Heat for his years of service, which opened the door to him seriously considering a new basketball home.
Pat Riley regrets it.
Riley spoke with reporters Saturday, here is Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel’s quotes from Riley about Wade.
“What happened with Dwyane, floored me. I’m not trying to fall on the sword for anybody. I have great regret that I didn’t immerse myself in the middle of it.
“I’m gonna miss what I might have had planned for him and his future and how I saw the end going for him….
“Dwyane left and the buck really stops here.
“It’s not going to be the same without him.”
Wade had made financial sacrifices for years and years to help build the Heat into what they became, both with LeBron James and after, and Wade wanted to be made whole. Or at least he wanted to feel respected. Instead, the Heat’s reported first offer was for $10 million — which in the current market was an insult to a guy who averaged 19 points a game last season — and while that was eventually doubled, no guaranteed third year was added. Riley likely thought the long-standing relationship would be enough to keep the shooting guard. Wade made a little more money by leaving, but the bigger issue was feeling respected and wanted — Chicago bent over backwards to bring Wade to his hometown. Miami didn’t.
That lack of effort by the Heat does fall on Riley’s doorstep.
The question is just how sad is he that Wade left? The Heat retained Hassan Whiteside and have good young players such as Justise Winslow. If Chris Bosh plays — and that remains a big if that nobody knows the answer to — the Heat will be pretty good this season, and better poised for the future than Chicago. My guess is Riley was ultimately okay with either outcome with Wade, stay or go.
That doesn’t make the emotional loss of a franchise icon in Miami any easier.