When LeBron James signed with them in 2010, the Miami Heat suddenly became the most hated team in basketball. In addition to LeBron’s rash choice to use a TV special to announce that he was “taking his talent to South Beach,” fans in Toronto suddenly saw Chris Bosh as the enemy as he also signed with the Heat that summer to join the NBA’s newest and most fearsome trio. What many overlooked, however, was the third member of said trio, the one who had been in Miami for seven seasons, one of the league’s nicest guys: Dwyane Wade.
After being drafted 5th overall by the Heat in 2003 out of Marquette, expectations were high for D-Wade and he did not disappoint. Over his first five seasons in Miami, Wade averaged just over 1507 points-per-year. In 2006, Wade helped guide the Heat to its first championship in team history. Since their inception in 1988, the Miami Heat were a hapless franchise but thanks in large part to the emergence of Dwayne Wade, those early days are but a distant memory. Of course, as incredible as his on-court success has been thus far, D-Wade has always been notorious for being one of the league’s most stand-up characters — and he proved that this past week.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which devastated much of New York City, the NBA’s Knicks opened their home schedule at Madison Square Garden just days after Sandy made its visit. Their opponent was Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat. With the nearby Brooklyn Nets postponing their home-opener and the New York City Marathon being canceled, it seemed appropriate to postpone the Knicks’ home opener as well — but it went ahead as scheduled this past Friday night. While many thought it was a good decision to let the game be played, many others felt different, including D-Wade himself despite saying that MSG is his favorite place to play. Prior to the game, in fact, Wade donated his game paycheque (approximately $210,000) towards hurricane relief. A gesture like this is an example of what is so easily forgotten about today’s athletes.
While we can look at someone like Alex Rodriguez and loathe him for making as much money in one at-bat than the average person makes in a year or Kobe Bryant or the aforementioned LeBron James and hold disdain for them for making millions of dollars right out of high school yet as easy it seems, we can’t look at every athlete in the same light.
In a society that shuns any form of negativity, it’s ironic how quickly athletes are dismissed just by looking at the three-piece Armani suits they sport or the cars they roll up in or the overhead shots of their mansions. Dwyane Wade may make a lot of money but he sure he has no difficulty sharing his wealth and I can even go out on a limb and say that D-Wade is not alone in that respect.
The effect Hurricane Sandy had on New York and New Jersey left a desecrating result. The aftermath has left many without power and, worse, without homes. Not every athlete may do what Dwyane Wade did but what he did was just the kick start the devastated region needed.
When asked why he made such a selfless gesture, D-Wade told USA Today Sports, “I grew up very poor. I grew up many days, many night where I didn’t have electricity and a lot of things. Just being blessed with I’m blessed with today, that’s where my compassionate side comes from – knowing where I’ve been and knowing people who are still out there who are growing up like I grew up and are going through similar things that I did. I always try to to do what I can to help others.”
While there are still many fans who despise the Miami Heat because of LeBron James, Chris Bosh or for whatever other reason, they should stop and at least admire the team thanks to its classy leader, Mr. Dwyane Wade.
It is amusing to listen to people label athletes as spoiled or insensitive all the while being sanctimonious enough to play with their iPhones while the person in front of them is trying to have a conversation or not holding the door open for the person behind them or throwing a tantrum when the debit machine at the front cash is down. There may be athletes who possess such traits but for the most part, there’s another trait athletes like Wade possess that far supersedes the aforementioned: it’s called being human.
I applaud Dwyane Wade for what he did to contribute to the hurricane relief fund. Since turning pro nine years earlier, D-Wade’s lifestyle may have changed considerably but he has never forgotten where he came from. Wade’s second-to-none attitude is something to learn from. We may not all have $200,000 to give away but we all have aspiring qualities that give us the ability to be selfless and help those in need. So, put down the iPhone and look at what’s going on: Dwyane Wade is taking apart the age-old stereotypes of professional athletes stone by stone and showing that he is a generous human being more than willing to offer a helping hand. We can all learn something from Dwayne Wade and those who are smart enough to see than man for who he really is, will do just that.