DALLAS — Retiring Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade missed Wednesday morning’s shootaround due to an illness and is listed as questionable for what would be his final appearance in Dallas, where he has been considered a villain since helping defeat the Mavericks in the 2006 Finals.
Wade was the MVP in that series, when he averaged 34.7 points per game while leading the Heat to four straight wins after they lost the first two games. It will always be remembered in Dallas for Wade’s parade to the free throw line, as he attempted 97 free throws in the series and 46 in the last two games, two coming off an especially controversial, critical call in the final seconds of Game 5.
Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is undecided about whether he will retire after this season, described his relationship with Wade as “frosty” for years. That is in large part due to comments Wade made after the 2006 Finals criticizing Nowitzki’s leadership, a response to the complaining in Dallas about the officiating.
Nowitzki and the Mavs got revenge against Wade and the Heat by beating Miami in the 2011 Finals. Wade added to the animosity during that series by pretending to cough along with LeBron James while leaving shootaround before Game 5, days after Nowitzki played despite a 101-degree fever in Dallas’ Game 4 win.
However, Nowitzki said the hard feelings are history for the two-time Finals foes, who were honored together as special additions to the upcoming All-Star Game.
“Mutual respect,” Nowitzki said this week. “Of course, like I’ve said, after ’06, we had some frosty times, but I think that’s way behind us. I always say he pushed me to become the player in ’11 to ultimately win. There were some things said after the ’06 Finals, and both sides didn’t love it.
“There were some times that we didn’t speak much. But I always watched from afar. He’s one of the best [shooting] guards to ever play the game. It’s an honor to obviously represent in the All-Star Game with him. He pushed me and made me the player I became later.”
Wade has swapped jerseys with an opponent after games this season, part of the pomp and circumstance of the farewell tour he has dubbed #OneLastDance. Nowitzki said he would be willing to do so if Wade wanted.
“Of course,” said Nowitzki, who added that Wade deserves a warm reception during his last Dallas visit “for what he’s done for the league.”