Before Erik Spoelstra, there was Pat Riley.
Before Li-Ning and Jordan Brand, there was Converse.
Before LeBron and Bosh, there was just Dwyane Wade (and Shaq I suppose).
Way back in 2006, the then-young Wade helped lead the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals to play the Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki. Wade’s speed and youth was a sharp contrast to his aging teammates like Shaquille O’Neal, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Derek Anderson, Jason Kapono, Gary Payton (you get the point). The Mavericks started the series off hot, winning both games at home taking a 0-2 lead on the way back to Miami.
But that was when Wade took over the series. With Game 3 back in Miami, Wade truly lived up to this nickname, “Flash.” Rocking the Playoff colorway of his signature Converse Wade 1, he would score 42 points while grabbing 13 boards. His team was down by as many as 13 points with less than six minutes left in the game. The Heat would continue to play and barely hang on. Game 4 was not as close, as Wade once again led the team with 36 points. He was also part of a defensive effort that resulted in holding the Mavericks to just seven points in the fourth quarter. The result was a 2-2 series tie.
Game 5 was more of the same. The final game was in front of the home crowd and Wade did not disappoint any fan lucky enough to attend the game. Wade was ultra-aggressive that game and the whistles were going his way. This game would go down in controversy thanks to the one-sided nature of free throws–Wade shot 25 himself. With the game going into overtime some phantom calls that went Miami’s way down the stretch helped the Heat. Still, the Mavericks held the lead multiple times, but Wade and the Heat persevered. Game 6 would be back in Dallas but the story was still the same. The Mavs just could not stop Flash. Although a close affair, Wade’s 36 points would help give the Heat the victory. It was the first championship in Heat franchise history. Not surprisingly, Wade was named NBA Finals MVP.
During the series, Wade averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 steals. He would go on to have an NBA best 33.8 PER during the Finals, sorry MJ. His performance was so dominant that many compared it to his Airness; perhaps that’s why he eventually moved from Converse to Jordan Brand. Wade and the Heat would become the third team to win the NBA championship after trailing 0–2 in the series. However, don’t worry Mavericks fans, you would get your revenge in 2011. But in 2006 the shine was all on Dwyane Wade and his Converse Wade 1’s.