The Game-Winner
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Dwyane Wade’s Top 10 moments as a Heat star

It didn’t take long for Wade to show he had the “clutch gene,” if that even exists. In his first playoff game on April 18, 2004, then Heat coach Stan Van Gundy put the ball in the hands of the rookie with the game on the line. And Wade didn’t disappoint. With the scored tied at 79 against the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the playoffs, he drove the lane and hit a pull-up jumper over Baron Davis. As legendary announcer Marv Albert put it: “The rookie Dwyane Wade has given Miami a dramatic Game 1 victory.”

 (Robert Duyos / Sun Sentinel)

If the shot against the Hornets was his introduction, then the next series against the Indiana Pacers was his official coming-out party. The Heat team would eventually fall to the more experienced Pacers, but not before Wade put his stamp on the series. In the fourth quarter on May 10, a driving 6-foot-4 Wade then elevated over 6-11 Jermaine O’Neal for a thunderous dunk.

 (Michael Laughlin / Sun Sentinel)

Not often is Superman overshadowed, but that is exactly what Wade, then known as Flash, did in the 2006 NBA Finals. The organization officially became his after he outshined star center Shaquille O’Neal, leading the Heat to a 4-2 series victory against the Dallas Mavericks. It was the first championship in franchise history. Wade’s numbers were staggering. He averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals. The performance was so great ESPN ranked it as No. 1 in Finals history.

 (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Wade was never known for his 3-point shooting, unless you count when he caught fire in this year’s postseason. The arc was rarely his friend, but that didn’t stop him from creating an everlasting moment against the Bulls on March 9, 2009. With the scored tied at 127 in double-overtime, Wade stole the ball from Bulls guard John Salmons. As time was expiring, he dribbled the length of the court and hit a running 3-pointer for the victory. The look on Chicago center Brad Miller’s face would have replaced the Crying Jordan meme if it happened today. Wade then capped the night by jumping on the scorer’s table in front of fans and proclaiming, “This Is My House.”

 (Robert Duyos / Sun Sentinel)

The 2008-09 season was considered a bounce-back year for Wade. He had dealt with injuries the previous two years but recovered in a major way. He averaged 30.2 points and captured his only regular-season scoring championship. After leading the Heat to the first round of the playoffs, many felt Wade was deserving of the Most Valuable Player award. The honor instead went to LeBron James. Among the big games that season for Wade were a 50-point night against the Orlando Magic and a 41-point, nine-assist, seven-steal, seven-rebound effort versus the Cavaliers.

 (Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE/Getty Images)

On Nov. 12, 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao was on the receiving end of one of the best dunks in league history. After James missed a dunk on the other end, Wade felt it was the perfect opportunity to show his future teammate how it’s done. Wade grabbed the rebound, dribbled the length of the court and threw down a vicious one-handed dunk over Varejao. How bad was it? The impact of the play sent Varejao falling back on the ground and into the basket support. TNT announcer Reggie Miller offered, “Welcome to your Kodak moment, Anderson Varejao!” After the game, even James had to praise Wade. “It was great, probably top 10 all-time,” James said. “That was an unbelievable play by a great player.”

 (Robert Duyos / Sun Sentinel SoFlaShare)

Although he never won regular-season MVP, Wade captured this honor in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. He had 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals in front of a packed house at Cowboys Stadium. In all, Wade had 12 All-Star appearances with the Heat.

 (RON T. ENNIS / MCT)

On July 10, 2010, the NBA landscape changed. It was the first time Wade, James and Chris Bosh were introduced as teammates. Never before had three perennial All-Stars in their prime ever teamed up. It was met with resistance but produced results in the end. The trio led the Heat to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning in 2012 and 2013. Wade, who owned the town the previous six seasons, decided sharing the spotlight was fine as long as it led to titles.

 (HANS DERYK / REUTERS)

Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals had James thinking back to 2006. Once again, it was one of those “vintage” Wade moments. He had 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting against the San Antonio Spurs in a pivotal game that allowed the Heat to tie the series at 2. They eventually won the franchise’s third championship. The performance, which also included six rebounds, six steals and four assists, came after Wade spent most of the playoffs hearing how he was riding the coattails of James. Wade’s previous high in the postseason had been just 21 points.

 (Michael Laughlin / Sun Sentinel)

With the Heat facing elimination, Wade flashed back to his old self against the Charlotte Hornets April 29, 2016. The Heat were trailing 3-2 in the series and playing on the road. Wade found inspiration from a courtside Hornets fan wearing a purple shirt. He answered the fan’s constant heckling by scoring 23 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, of the Heat’s 97-90 victory. After hitting a jumper while falling down, Wade jumped to his feet and began taunting the fan. The Heat went on to win the series in seven games.

 (Michael Laughlin / Sun Sentinel)
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