Retiring Wade still battling to make post-season

WASHINGTON • Just about every time Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade plays a game in his 16th and final professional season, he plays the dual role of ambassador and basketball player.

In what has become a National Basketball Association (NBA) staple after most Heat games, an opponent swops jerseys with him while posing for photos.

But, with his team clinging to the eighth and final play-off spot in the East, Wade chose to focus more on basketball and less on post-game rituals on Saturday night at the Washington Wizards, scoring 11 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter for a 113-108 win.

The victory, which did not include a jersey swop afterwards, improved the Heat to 36-37, one game clear of the ninth-placed Orlando Magic with nine games to go.

The 13-time All-Star later told reporters that he simply "took care of business".

He told Florida daily The Sun-Sentinel: "I don't think a lot of people thought we would go 3-1 (in their four past games on the road) when they looked at the schedule, so our team is playing well, playing with a lot of confidence."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra hailed Wade's latest heroics - he is their third-highest scorer this term with an average of 14.3 points per game - admitting there was "nothing like having a hall of famer".

He added: "This is fun. I'm trying to enjoy every minute of this. That round ball, that game, and this team is really keeping him young."

His opponents also lent their voices to the growing chorus urging the 37-year-old to change his mind about calling it a day in the league.

Wizards forward Jeff Green, who led all scorers with 25 points, said: "I've tried my convincing. It didn't work. I've been trying for the last six months, it didn't work. I'm glad he's going out the way he wants to and he's playing well.

"Normally, guys use this as a time to enjoy the moment. He's out there playing hard, giving it all for his team, and that's something that everybody can take away from it."

Teammate Tomas Satoransky, who contributed 12 points, felt with "the way Wade plays, he does not need to retire" while Wizards coach Scott Brooks jokingly called on the NBA "to fine the Miami Heat for allowing him to retire".

Lauding the guard for being "too good and too fun to watch", he told The Sun-Sentinel: "Just fine them, just flat-out fine the whole team.

"Just look at the crowd (at the Capital One Arena). He draws a crowd wherever he goes.

"He's a winner. The guy competes. His spirit is always in the right spot. You can see all the joy that he plays with."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Retiring Wade still battling to make post-season'. Print Edition | Subscribe