Wade helps Bulls down former team Heat
Shooting guard stars for Bulls on emotional return to Miami
MIAMI HEAT 95
CHICAGO BULLS 98
Dwyane Wade couldn't have asked for a better storyline on his return to Miami, but he also couldn't wait to get it over with.
The 34-year-old Chicago native returned to his adopted hometown yesterday morning (Singapore time), sinking two key free-throws with 13 seconds left as the Bulls edged out the Miami Heat 98-95.
"It was one of the weirdest games I've ever played in," said Wade.
"What a game. I am glad it is over."
The focus yesterday morning was on Wade's return.
During the game's first time-out, the franchise played a video montage of Wade's Heat highlights.
And the fans in the AmericanAirlines Arena responded with a standing ovation for the 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion, who raised both arms to salute the crowd.
"There are so many emotions coming back here," the shooting guard said.
Wade said he prepared for the game by relaxing at his luxury Miami home and playing cards with some of his teammates.
"I was trying to get my mind off basketball," he said. "I told my teammates before this game that this is not about me. Don't worry about me, we need this win."
Wade made sure Chicago got the victory when he drew a foul call against Justise Winslow with 13 seconds left. Wade made both to give the Bulls a 96-92 lead, and that was all Chicago needed.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra smiled when asked about the foul and said that opinions will vary depending on your allegiances.
"I don't know if that counts as the storybook return, a foul to go to the free-throw line, but Dwyane was able to knock those down," Spoelstra said.
"If this were last year, I would have thought, 'Hey, he got pushed out of bounds'. This year, he's selling it."
Wade spent 13 seasons with the Heat before joining his hometown Bulls on a two-year deal worth an estimated US$47 million ($66m).
He suffered through a string of injuries in his last few seasons in Miami.
And there were reports of tension between Wade and Heat president Pat Riley leading up to his decision to leave, when the Heat did not match the Bulls' contract offer over the summer.
Riley previously said he was "floored" by Wade's decision to leave Miami, where he won three championships and earned a reputation as one of the NBA's elite guards.
Yesterday morning, Riley said he gets choked up when he thinks of Wade.
"We will always love him. We will never forget him," he said.
"I can listen to 'The Way We Were' by Willie Hutch and I will come to tears thinking about him."
But that hasn't always been the case for Wade, who took criticism in 2006 from then-coach Riley for handling the ball too much and not getting his teammates involved.
In the NBA Finals against Dallas, Miami fell behind 2-0 in the series and Riley said at the time that when Wade handles the ball 50 times or more in a game, the Heat usually lose.
Riley took responsibility for Wade not re-signing this season and said he wished he was more involved in the contract negotiations.
Wade maintains that, despite his exit, he doesn't hold anything against Riley, who returned to the sidelines to coach Wade and the Heat from 2005 to 2008.
The Heat won their first championship in 2005-06, and Wade was named the NBA Finals MVP. - AFP.
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