But the Miami Heat icon also wanted to make it clear that the appearance was not the end, either to work on the court or his work beyond.
“Whatever my legacy is and whatever it will become, it’s what I’ve been building since anybody ever heard my name or before that,” he said, with attention now turned to the resumption of the Heat’s schedule Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers. “So at the end of the day, when it’s over, I think that the respect that I’ve been getting from fans around the world, fans in arenas, the players that I’m playing against, that’s the thing that makes me fill my heart with joy. Because I just want a respect for what I bring to the table, and that’s in both on the court and off the court. And I’ve been getting that.
“So I’ve just got to keep it going. I’m 37 years old, I’m a young man in life. I’ve got a long life ahead of me, and I’m destined to do other things that’s great. So see what that is.”
All the while, doing it for a coach who still believes there is more to give at the moment.
“I thought we’d be in a better spot right now, so I figured these games would have incredible meaning, which they do right now,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re trying to climb up. But if you want to play against the best teams in the league, you need some Hall of Fame talents. And Dwyane is that. Even at his age. He is somebody that’s special, that’s different.
“So did I anticipate he would be playing this many minutes? I don’t know. But definitely somebody that was going to have big-time fingerprints on the direction of this team. It’s with his play. Obviously it’s with his leadership. This team needs a lot of it. And particularly the young guys need his Hall-of-Fame mentorship. And he’s doing all of it, the trifecta right now.”
Sunday, by comparison, was all fun and games, Wade closing with seven points, four assists and two rebounds in 10:27 as part of the winning effort for Team LeBron.
“I got the moments I wanted,” he said, which included receiving an alley-oop pass from LeBron James and also feeding one to his former Heat championship teammate.
“You visualize something and you hope it goes that way. And it definitely has. It went way beyond what I thought, to have the moments that I visualized. And that’s all I needed.”
James said with the special All-Star invitation for Wade from Commissioner Adam Silver it created moments as meaningful for himself as his friend.
“It’s been a bittersweet moment for me with him,” James said. “The bitter part is obviously this is the last time being on the same floor together and playing the game we love so much, and obviously all the memories we have, both as competitors, as teammates, so on and so on. Playing here in the States, playing abroad with Team USA and doing what we’ve been doing for so many years.
“And then the sweet part of it, seeing him be able to go off on his own terms, saying when he’s done and nobody forced him out or did anything of that nature. He’s able just to hang it up when he was ready to hang it up and be at peace with it all. So that’s real sweet of it.”
For Spoelstra, whose team resumes practice Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena, there remains more to be written by Wade over these final two months of the season.
“It’s the championship habits and professionalism that we’re trying to teach a young team,” Spoelstra said. “The approach in meetings, shootarounds, practices, something as simple as being on time. That means to the Miami Heat is be early. Dwyane is always going to be early. You never have worry about him on anything in that regard.
“That’s an incredible example to 21-, 22-year-olds, when they start to want to emulate that. And that’s the first behavior to of the chain, and there’s a myriad of other ones that Dwyane exhibits, that these guys see every single day.”
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