MIAMI - Dwyane Wade is back home. And it's where he belongs.
But before we get to the nostalgia of having No. 3 back in a Miami Heat uniform, let's think back to just 36 hours ago when the Heat lost their fifth straight game.
Once again, the Heat battled hard. Once again, failure in execution down the stretch and the inability to close a game cost them a chance to win.
Wade is a closer. That's what he always was and still could be for Miami in the playoff chase.
Let's make one thing clear, and we all know the answer. Is Wade still a superstar who can carry a team night in and night out? No. That's not an insult to Wade. It's just not fair to expect him to be a 30-35-minute guy nightly who takes 20 shots a game, but that's not who the Heat needs him to be.
Wade needs to be the finisher. Pat Riley hinted on Thursday that Wade will likely come off the bench initially, though he conceded that will be up to Erik Spoelstra to decide.
Whether he starts or comes off the bench, what Miami needs to do is manage his minutes for the most impactful times in the game.
Whether it's the first few minutes of a game to get into rhythm or coming off the bench for a spark in the first half, once crunch time rolls around, Wade will likely be that guy in the final five minutes of the game, helping to make the right decisions.
That doesn't mean he will take every shot, but Wade still commands attention from opposing defenses and still finds a way to get to the basket. He's also decisive and not afraid to take the big shot. That's something the Heat has been missing with Dion Waiters out for the season.
Bottom line, Wade gives Miami another much needed option in big moments. While he won't always save the day, it'll be a big help for a team that's been inconsistent in finishing off games.
That's the basketball part of the equation. Now let's get to the sentimental side.
Dwyane Wade belongs in a Heat uniform. He never should have left. Both sides have said as much.
While Wade sold his departure as living out a dream to play in his childhood home of Chicago, and the Heat sold it as moving on to the next phase of the future, it still never felt right. That's because it wasn't right.
This is right.
His place in basketball history is secure, but it's secure in a No. 3 Miami Heat uniform. It took some mending with Pat Riley, but the past is now the past.
Riley truly loves Wade and knows what he's meant and will continue to mean to the franchise. Meanwhile, Wade has always respected what Riley has done for him in helping cement his legacy. He sees Riley as a father figure type.
In the end, Wade will now remain in the uniform he started his NBA career with and won three NBA titles.
Will he win another one here before it's all said and done? That might be asking too much, but that doesn't really matter right now.
All that matters is that Dwyane Wade is back in the place he never should have been allowed to leave.
His house. His city. His fans. His team.
That, in itself, is the real win.
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