Dwyane Wade made his entry into the NBA when the Miami Heat chose him as the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft. He was drafted the same season as the legendary LeBron James, who was the No. 1 pick. Wade’s early success with the Miami Heat was made possible by the recruitment of Shaquille O’Neal.
In an interview with Andre Iguodala and the “Point Forward” podcast team, Wade discussed Shaq’s impact on his 2006 championship team. Knowing that the set of rookies in his draft class were just as good, if not better, it was imperative for him to give it all he had.
He recalled that with O’Neal on the Heat roster, it was a clarion call for him to gun for the championship. He said that he needed to stand out from the class, and winning a championship title in 2006 at age 24 did exactly that for him.
“That was important to be the first one of my class,” Wade said. “I knew when once we got Shaq and I was the first one, I felt I was in position. Once you get Shaq, you gotta automatically know, like, all right, at that time it’s championship or bust.
“I knew that I was in position first, and I was like, ‘I gotta strike now.’ You know what I’m saying? And, like, they can be no waiting, because I knew how great the class was.”
Dwyane Wade led the Miami Heat to a championship title at age 24
In his sophomore season with the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade averaged a team-best 24.1 points per game. He also led their charge in the playoffs with an average of 27.4 points and 6.6 assists. The franchise lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals.
His third season was highly rewarding as he clinched his first title ring. He averaged 28.4 ppg, 5.7 apg and 2.2 steals per game in the playoffs. He was awarded the Finals MVP title after averaging 34.7 ppg in the six-game series.
Wade went on to clinch two more championships (in 2012 and 2013) with LeBron James on the Heat roster. The 13-time All-Star had a fulfilling career before retiring in 2019 and is on course to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team.