WASHINGTON – Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr. didn’t witness the vast majority of the Dwyane Wade NBA-playing era. Two of the Wizards’ kids still understand the significance of the Heat legend’s final tour stop in Chinatown.
“It’s definitely humbling to see guys I grew up watching play in front of me,” the 19-year-old Brown said at the morning shootaround ahead of Saturday night’s final Miami-Washington game of the regular season which tips at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
The bigger picture note is Saturday marks the last time the future Basketball Hall of Fame guard plays in Washington.
Miami (35-37) is most definitely in play for the Eastern Conference playoffs, but Wade’s season-long sendoff overshadows all especially when on the road.
Wade’s resume is staggering. Three-time NBA champion, all with the Heat. Thirteen-time All-Star. Eight-time All-NBA selection. Finals MVP. The NBA’s leading scorer during the 2008-09 season will reach 23,000 points for his career in the coming days.
We’ll see what the Wizards (30-43) organization conjures up for a sendoff. Perhaps another jersey exchange involving the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. Bradley Beal, who wears number 3 in honor of Wade, made sure he snagged one from Wade when the teams played in Miami this season.
Bryant’s view of Wade extends beyond a legendary foe. The two shared a college coach – Tom Crean directed Wade at Marquette and Bryant with Indiana. The Wizards’ young center is also friend’s with Wade’s basketball-playing son, Zaire.
“It means a lot,” Bryant said of facing Wade. “I’m really close to his son Zaire and I worked out with [Dwyane] in LA a couple of times with Coach Crean. I talked to [Dwyane] a couple of times and tried to catch up with him. Just seeing the legacy he’s built up in this league and just for him to play as hard as he does even in this last year is amazing.”
Wade, 37, isn’t looking to go out quietly. He is averaging 14.2 points and 25 minutes a game while playing in 62 of Miami’s 72 games. If the Heat keep up their current pace, there’s a good chance Wade participates in the postseason for the 14th time in 16 seasons.
For much of the season, it appeared one if not multiple teams qualifying for an Eastern Conference playoff berth would finish the season with a losing record. Second-half surges from Detroit, Brooklyn and most recently Miami may upend that dodgy narrative.
The Heat won eight of 10 before falling 116-87 at top-seed Milwaukee Friday night. Miami enters Saturday one-half game ahead of Orlando (35-38) and 2.5 over Charlotte (32-39).
The Wizards, who began at least a subtle pivot toward the future in Thursday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, are six back of the Heat in the loss column with nine games to play.
Brown made his first career start in the 113-108 setback against the Nuggets with Trevor Ariza (groin strain) sidelined. Head coach Scott Brooks also went with a bigger lineup by inserting Thomas Bryant next to Bobby Portis with Jeff Green coming off the bench.
Since Ariza didn’t participate in the morning shootaround, there’s a logical thread that has Brown making his second career start. For the memory bank, nothing likely tops the first time. That is unless number two means facing Miami’s famous No. 3.
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