By Rey Valdes
Dear Dwyane Wade,
I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer because no man should be this sad about another man moving to another state.
Obviously there are worse things in this world, far worse. But sport is our escape from all that, a distraction from our lives.
And you were the embodiment of sports in Miami for 13 years. You helped us forget about everything that was bothering us, for a couple hours each night, 82+ nights a year, over more than a decade.
That’s what makes us fans, the term “fanatical.” While I shouldn’t rationally feel this way, I identify myself as a Miami HEAT fanatic, and you were the HEAT. Forgive me for being a little emotional.
I went through all five stages of grief after SportsManias gave me the alert that you had signed with Chicago.
I looked for a conflicting report.
I was furious at you, at Pat Riley, at Mickey Arison, Lebron, Chris Bosh, everyone.
I offered to pay for your contract with money I don’t have, to no one that was listening.
And I’m currently between depression and acceptance.
Let me get back to the anger for a second.
Some Miami HEAT fans will be really mad at you. Some will be really mad at Pat or the HEAT or whoever else. It’s part of the process.
Both of you were using our emotions as leverage.
“You don’t want to piss off the fans,” is exactly what I could imagine you guys silently mouthing every time a “report” was “leaked” from either side. I fell for it, although I’m not sure what and how much is true at this point.
What I do know is that you felt slighted, and that there is likely a reason you decided not to continue playing here.
I won’t try to guess what it was or what took it over the edge. I’m only sorry that it happened. I’m sorry you felt the way you did. And I’m sorry that you left because of it.
However, you should know that we appreciate you. We never took you for granted. We loved it when Lebron was here and watching you guys win two titles was incredible.
But you were introduced last for a reason. You always got the most applause. You weren’t the best player on those teams, but you were (are!) our favorite.
You piqued our interest when you, Lamar Odom, and Caron Butler beat out Baron Davis and the Hornets your rookie year.
You stole our hearts when you and Shaq won in 2006 in one of the greatest finals performances of all time.
I will never forget being at Game 5, down 12 to the Mavericks with 5 minutes left, and watching you put the team on your back and lead us to one of the best comebacks of all time.
Then you worked with Pat to bring Lebron and Chris down here for an unforgettable four years.
That Mavericks game is second only to Ray Allen’s shot out of the corner in Game 6. Finally, you cemented your legacy when you, again, sacrificed for us and came back once Lebron left.
This hurts, but it will not change all the good memories we have of you.
I’ll be there when we retire your number and when we unveil the statue of your fade-away jumper outside the American Airlines Arena. We will not forget.
But we aren’t Wade groupies; we are HEAT Nation.
Forgive us for not becoming Bulls fans.
We will not make a villain out of Pat, or Mickey, or anyone associated with our team.
We need them now to help us get through this.
We will figure something out and hopefully beat the shit out of the Bulls next time we play.
We only wish you would have been on our side.
I promise we’ll give you the loudest ovation you’ve ever heard after the video on the jumbotron is over, and only boo you after our tears have dried and Hassan Whiteside has won the tip.
Now someone play Seven Nation Army!
Wish you the best of luck in Chicago Dwyane.
Thank you for everything.
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Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)