DALLAS -- Dwyane Wade grabbed the season's last rebound,
throwing the ball high in the air as the clock ran out.
And with that, he let out a long scream, a shout of delight.
It was over. The Miami Heat were world champions.
"Man, it's one of the best feelings, next to my wife and my
son, that I've ever had in my whole life," Wade said.
With a 36-point night, Wade led the Heat to a 95-92 win over the
Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of his first title series. The Heat lost
the first two games, then won the next four, riding Wade every step
of the way.
"This team was built for this. This team was built for the
playoffs," Wade said. "Not at one moment did one of us not
believe in each other."
Shaquille O'Neal grabbed and hugged him. Heat owner Micky Arison
wrapped his arms around him. And Wade simply raised one finger
He was the finals MVP, the best player in the playoffs, on the
NBA's best team.
"Wade is the best player ever," O'Neal said before the trophy
Let the comparisons to you-know-who continue.
"Dwyane has told me that he would not like me to speak of him
in context with Michael Jordan anymore, out of respect of him,"
coach Pat Riley said Tuesday, about eight hours before tipoff.
"He's a pretty good player himself. I think it's time for Dwyane
to take on his own persona."
There are obvious parallels -- like how both Jordan and Wade both
can make taking over a game look effortless.
Dallas jumped out to a 26-12 lead after nine minutes of Game 6;
no surprise, since the Mavs were playing for their season and were
boosted by a positively raucous environment in their home arena.
But the Heat had no reason to panic. Wade hadn't starting
His first basket came with 1:59 left in the first quarter. His
second was a jumper over Jason Terry, who fouled Wade on the play.
By quarter's end, Wade had seven points, the Heat were within seven
points, and the arena began to quiet down.
In the second, Wade started what became an 18-6 run by the Heat
with a jumper that started Miami's rally back from an 11-point
deficit. Then in the third quarter, with the game tied at 53, Wade
blocked Josh Howard's layup with 9:43 left. That sparked a 6-0
Miami run that bought the Heat a little more breathing room.
And in the fourth, with Miami clinging to a three-point lead,
Wade still had all the right moves.
At one point, he had three Dallas defenders around him and the
two others watching as he dribbled on the right wing. No one --
except Wade, that is -- noticed James Posey standing alone in the
Just like an MVP would, Wade tossed him the ball, and Posey hit
"This is a team award," Wade said as he was handed the MVP
trophy, "like it's a team championship."
In his 98th game of a grueling, trying season where the Heat
switched personnel, switched coaches and were perceived as not good
enough to win it all -- some doubters even picked Chicago over Miami
in the first round -- there was enough spring in his step to deliver
10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.
His game is complete. So, too, is his resume.
"When you're playing for a championship," Wade said before the
game, "that's all you need."
Moments before tipoff, amid deafening noise, Wade stood alone in
front of the Heat bench, stretching. O'Neal leaned in for a quick
word, and Wade nodded approval to whatever Shaq whispered.
"I knew the first time I saw him, he was something special,"
O'Neal has incessantly referred to Wade as "my favorite
pupil." School's out for summer now, though.
Wade just graduated.
At 24, he's atop the basketball world.
"That's what these events do," Riley said. "They make genuine
stars out of some players."