Remembering Dwyane Wade’s career through his stat-stuffingest games

May 3, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over New York Knicks guard Landry Fields (2) during the first half of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over New York Knicks guard Landry Fields (2) during the first half of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

To celebrate Dwyane Wade’s enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, this week at All U Can Heat is “Dwyane Wade Week.” Each day, we will celebrate his career, rank his greatest performances and break down the biggest moments of the greatest player in Miami Heat history.

Of all the scoring Dwyane Wade did in his career – and, boy, did he do a lot of it, including leading the league in scoring in 2009, finishing 37th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and first all-time in Heat franchise history, more than double second place Alonzo Mourning – it’s important to remember all the ways in which he dominated the game.

Wade also happens to be one of the greatest shot-blocking guard of all time. He had a knack for grabbing important rebounds and setting up his teammates. In other words, Wade could tally the box-score numbers.

It can be easy to forget how thoroughly dominant Wade was in his prime. Among all the great D-Wade games, several stand out and illustrate his all-around brilliance, beyond just the scoring. Let’s take a look at a few of those games as we remember D-Wade’s career.

Dec. 30, 2004, at Detroit: 31 points (on 66.7% shooting), 10 rebounds, 10 assists

This was Wade’s eighth 30-point game of his career. As a rookie the season before, Wade scored 30 points three times and led the Heat to a surprising playoff birth. By the time the Heat arrived in Detroit just before the turn of the new year of his second season, Wade had already put up four 30 burgers – surpassing his rookie campaign total.

Sure, the arrival of Shaquille O’Neal helped elevate Wade and his team, but we have rarely seen a first-to-second-year leap as massive as the one Wade took in 2004. Over one summer, the Heat went from a plucky, feel-good playoff team to a bona fide contender. That had much to do with Wade’s surge as Shaq’s introduction.

June 20, 2006, at Dallas: 36 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks

The 2006 NBA Finals is the magnum opus of Wade’s career, and he played perhaps his best game of the series to deliver the Miami Heat’s first championship. Seven days before the series-clinching Game 6 in Dallas, Wade and the Heat returned to Miami down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. Legend has it that Wade told his teammates and coach Pat Riley, “I ain’t going out like this,” then proceeded to pour in 42 points on 14 of 26 shooting and 13 rebounds to lift the Heat to a narrow Game 3 win and back into the series.

But it was in Game 6 that Wade was at his most confident, having broken Dallas’s defense (and successfully figured out how the refs were calling the series), Wade put on a clinic: 36 points on 10 of 18 shooting, 16 for 21 at the line – and the game-sealing rebound to boot. Wade averaged 34.7 points on nearly 47% shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.7 steals and a block in the series. During the Finals broadcast, a young Mike Breen became accustomed to calling it Michael Jordanesque.

Later, Wade’s performance inspired then-ESPN columnist John Hollinger to rank Wade’s 2006 display the greatest Finals performance in league history and write, “While it seems strange to have somebody besides Jordan in the top spot, the truth is Jordan never dominated a Finals to this extent. At the time, many called Wade’s performance Jordanesque. It turns out they might have been selling him short.”

Dec. 28, 2007, vs Orlando: 48 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks

Playing without injured Shaq and Jason Williams, Wade put on the kind of performance that would define his career for the next two seasons. Virtuoso skills, eye-popping stats, all in a loss as he tried to carry his woefully outmatched teammates.

On this night against a strong Orlando Magic team – they would finish first in the division and make the second round of the playoffs behind a blossoming Dwight Howard and guys like Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson at or around their primes – Wade put on a show: 48 points while missing just five shots (16 of 21). He got to the line for 23 free throws. He willed the likes of Ricky Davis, Dorell Wright and Daequan Cook to overtime, where he ultimately broke down and did not attempt a single field goal after playing a game-high 51 ½ minutes. The Heat lost by seven, but this still goes down as a D-Wade classic.

Feb. 28, 2009, vs New York: 46 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks

Let me set the scene: Trailing the Knicks by 15 entering the fourth quarter, the Heat didn’t have an answer for Nate Robinson, who had 28 points off the bench. Wade to that point was having a solid game – 22 points on 9 for 18 shooting – but even above-average games from new teammates Jamario Moon and Jermaine O’Neal (acquired from the Raptors at the trade deadline for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks two weeks prior) hadn’t been enough to keep up with New York’s deep lineup that already had five guys in double-figures.

This was when Wade went from cruising at 65 miles per hour in the middle lane to punching it at 90 through the express. In 10 fourth-quarter minutes, Wade dropped 24 points on 7 of 11 shooting, outscoring the entire Knicks roster in the period and gifting Miami the win. Less than two months later, Wade would do them even dirtier…

March 14, 2009, vs Utah: 50 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks

It took three overtimes, 39 shot attempts and more than 52 minutes for Dwyane Wade to muscle his Heat to a 140-129 win. It wasn’t just the 50 points Wade contributed, he also led the team in assists (nine), was second in rebounds (10, behind Udonis Haslem’s 12) and in steals (four, behind Mario Chalmers’ five – RIO!) and added two blocked shots for taste.

April 12, 2009, vs New York: Career-high 55 points

Poor Knicks. They got toasted by Wade for two of his greatest games within a two-month period in 2009, including the highest-scoring game of D-Wade’s career. Fifty-five points, 19 of 30 shooting, 11 of 13 from the line.

Wade had 27 points at halftime but the Knicks still carried a two-point lead. Wade had uncharacteristically attempted four 3-pointers in the first half, but made just one. The Knicks were in control and mostly took Miami out of its comfort zone. It felt like one of those games when the better team pulls away in the second half.

But then something happened. Wade drilled a 3-pointer to put the Heat up three within the first two minutes of the second half. Then he made another, and then another… then another, and then another – four total in the third quarter to give the Heat a six-point lead going into the fourth. He was feeling it. He ended up going 6 for 12 from 3-point range in the game and the Heat blew out the Knicks by 17.

January 25, 2010, vs Cleveland: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block

This was LeBron’s last visit to Miami before becoming a free agent in the summer of 2010. Wade and the Heat were in the middle of a 47-win season while LeBron was in the midst of his second-straight MVP season, playing for a Cavs team that would lead the league with 61 wins. Heat fans brought signs (like a fake LeBron Facebook page that said “In a Relationship with the Miami Heat”) and were given a show.

Midway through the second quarter, Wade and James turned things up. LeBron dunked on Wade, some free throws back and forth, then the two superstars went on a shooting frenzy. Wade hit a 3. LeBron hit a 3. A jumper by Wade, a jumper by LeBron. LeBron scored 20 in the second quarter while Wade had 17 (and 30 in the half). Wade skipped to the locker room at halftime and the fans at the then-AmericanAirlines Arena were going nuts.

It was as much as a one-on-one can exist in a basketball game. It was like watching a match between Federer and Nadal – whoever was better was up for debate, and there was no right answer. At the time, it seemed inconceivable that these two could be on the same team.

April 25, 2010, vs Boston in the first round of the East playoffs: 46 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

To be clear: The 2009-10 Heat had no business being in the playoffs. Here’s their depth chart:

PG: The three-headed monster of sophomore Mario Chalmers, 33-year-old Rafer Alston and nobody’s favorite fill-in Carlos Arroyo
SG: Dwyane Wade, bless his heart
SF: Quentin Richardson – who somehow managed to make one or fewer shots in 23 games that season – on a one-year rental
PF: Michael Beasley, who regressed after his rookie season and was already showing signs of his future in the BIG3
C: Jermaine O’Neal, who had been washed for three years already

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Heat lost to the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen Celtics, who would go on to represent the East in the Finals. What is surprising is that the Heat won a game in this series at all. Facing elimination in Game 3 at home, Wade delivered a masterpiece – 46 points on 67% shooting, including 19 points in a fourth quarter in which he out-scored the whole of the Big 3 Celtics. This was Wade at his peak, wrapping up two years of playing alongside a second-rate supporting cast. It was like Daniel Day-Lewis filming “There Will Be Blood” but, instead of co-starring with Paul Dano and Ciarán Hinds, he had to carry Pete Davidson and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in “Elvis.”

“This will be my last first-round exit for a while,” Wade said after Miami’s Game 5 loss. “I can tell you that.”

Three months later, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Wade on the Heat.

May 24, 2012, at Indiana in the second round of the East playoffs: 41 points (on 68% shooting), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Perhaps no team ever had more at stake in a single postseason than the 2012 Heat. One year after their Finals collapse against the Mavericks, the Big 3 experiment was on the brink. Another loss without a championship would have likely led to Pat Riley trading Chris Bosh and trying to retool around Wade and LeBron.

After dispatching the Knicks in five games, the Heat were down 2-1 to start their second-round series against the Pacers. Bosh had been sidelined since the first game with an abdominal injury and Indiana’s big center Roy Hibbert was giving Wade and James problems around the basket. Wade, in particular, was having a hard time, shooting just 31% in the first three games.

Then something clicked. Instead of trying to avoid Hibbert with inefficient fadeaways and floaters, Wade started going right at him. By Game 6, he cracked the code. Wade went 5 of 7 at the rim and drained 10 of his 11 shots from his sweet spot in the left mid-range area. Wade dominated, going 17 of 25 overall for 41 points to eliminate the Pacers, advance to the conference finals, and keep the Big 3 alive.

Jun 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) dribbles as he is defended by San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (4) in the first quarter during game three of he 2013 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) dribbles as he is defended by San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (4) in the first quarter during game three of he 2013 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports /

June 13, 2013, at San Antonio in the NBA Finals: 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals, 1 block

This may be the most overlooked important game of the Big 3 era. After splitting the first two games of the 2013 Finals at home, the Heat went into San Antonio and got waxed by 36 points by the 58-win Spurs. A loss like that would have broken most teams, especially with all the pressure the Heat already faced. No one outside Miami wanted the Heat to win this series.

Instead, Wade, LeBron and Bosh came out in Game 4 in San Antonio and combined for 85 points on 58% shooting. LeBron and Wade led the way, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively in the first quarter, then finished it off with nine and 10 points in the fourth. Wade, after combining for just 26 points in the previous two games, finished with 32 points and had three of his six steals in the fourth quarter to avoid going down 3-1 and tie the series.

BONUS: April 10, 2019 at Brooklyn: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists

In his last game, Wade fittingly finished his career with one more triple-double, putting on a show in Brooklyn in front of peers like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. (Please disregard the fact that the Heat lost by 19 and Wade basically spent the entire game chucking shots like Kobe in his swansong while teammates got out of his way so he could grab rebounds.) WOW! Now that’s how a great player goes out on top.

Honorable mentions: Feb. 22, 2009 at Orlando: 50 points, five rebounds and five assists… March 9, 2009 vs Chicago: 48 points, six rebounds and 12 assists on 71.4% shooting (5 of 6 on 3s)… April 14, 2005 at Philadelphia: 48 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and a steal… May 11, 2011 vs Boston: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and four steals.