Carmelo, LeBron and CP3 sit courtside, cheer like crazy during Dwyane Wade’s final game
Nate Scott | USA TODAY SPORTS
Dwyane Wade played in his final game on Wednesday night, and the banana boat crew just had to be there.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul all showed up to attend the game as fans, sitting courtside and clearly having a fantastic time supporting their friend. Wade delivered as well, finishing with a triple double in his final game as a member of the Heat.
Wade is the first of the four to retire, and it’s admittedly a bit weird to imagine the NBA without him, let alone without the four of these players. James still has plenty of gas in the tank, and Paul does as well, but Melo’s only got so much time left to try and make it work, and could follow Wade soon. Soon enough, all four will be out of the league, and it will be a sadder league without them.
Anyway, here are some great photos (and highlights) of the four of them interacting on the night:
His face solemn and his eyes dark, Kevin Durant stands next to me, gesturing and squinting and shuddering, constantly repeating this process, as if trying to shake away unwelcome reality.
“I just wish I could have run into him again. Know what I’m saying?” Durant told me in a recent conversation. “I mean . . . I met him, but I know him mostly through his music and what he was doing in the community. He was just genuine. I wish I had the opportunity to just give him another hug or dap him up again. Anything. Because he was so real.”
This was a few days ago, and Durant is not alone. Not in the NBA. Not this month.
Plenty of grown millionaires are grieving the loss of influential rapper/entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle.
“All the (expletive) he went through growing up and to come out and make the kind of impact he was making is . . . what could be bad about that?” Durant says.
Durant and many other American athletes, particularly those in the NBA, have spent much of the past 11 days trying to collect themselves in the wake of the senseless murder of Hussle (born Ermias Joseph Asghedom) that occurred March 31 in Los Angeles. He was 33.
When Nipsey is buried Thursday in Los Angeles, hundreds of NBA players will be there in spirit. A considerable number will be there in person. That’s how much he meant.
Nipsey’s death in Los Angeles took away a brother, a friend, someone universally admired. DJ Sharp, the turntable whiz at Oracle Arena, made sure to spin Nipsey’s beats that night. Upon recognizing it during a timeout, Warriors teammates Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Durant responded with a spontaneous dance as a way of paying respects.
The word spread, the reaction grew and players around the NBA did plenty to keep Nipsey in the news, express what he meant to them and how he had touched their lives.
Asked about Nipsey on the night of his death, Steph Curry, sitting at the podium, struggled to slide his response around the lump in his throat. They were friends. Brothers. Look it up.
The Los Angeles Clippers produced a pregame video tribute to Nipsey and played it at Staples Center just hours after his death. Moreover, they placed a pair of shoes next to a jersey – “Hussle” – in a stall between those of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell in their locker room.
Harrell said he wished he could have worn it on the court during the game.
Two nights after Nipsey was shot and killed, Russell Westbrook went out and posted the first 20-20-20 (points, rebounds, assists) game in the league in more than a half century. The last player to achieve the feat was Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Russ and Nip? Brothers.
Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith responded by adding a textured tattoo of Nipsey in profile.
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie ordered a pair of customized shoes featuring Nipsey that are up for auction this week, with the revenue being donated to charity.
“He was everything to us,” former Warriors star Baron Davis said on TNT.
“He meant everything to me,” Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas told The Undefeated.
The bond between musicians and athletes is as strong as it has ever been. But the bond with Nipsey was more intense than that. His upbringing was like many of theirs. His evolution from at-risk teenager to successful corporation, from selling his own mixtapes to being nominated for a Grammy, is much like many of theirs.
Their quest to build better communities in an effort to serve people of color was Nipsey’s quest.
“Through his music and interviews, you hear where he came from,” says Warriors forward Alfonzo McKinnie. “You hear how he made it out and how he transformed from being that ‘hood person,’ the gangbanger that he was back in the day, to a businessman and entrepreneur. He was uplifting the kids and the culture in general. That’s why (his death) hit so many people.”
And now he’s gone. A celebration of Nipsey’s life will be held at Staples Center, with the funeral procession winding through the streets of South Central en route to a funeral home in his beloved Crenshaw neighborhood.
The NBA mourns and will for a while. And some will be compelled to step even further forward and take action in ways that would have made Nipsey Hussle proud.
MIAMI — Dwyane Wade made sure his final game in “Wade County” — the place he has spent the vast majority of the past 16 years and, in doing so, has become the most beloved athlete in this city’s history — was fitting of the occasion.
After going through an emotional pregame ceremony, Wade went out and scored 30 points in 34 minutes Tuesday night to lead the Miami Heat to a 122-99 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. And while the win wasn’t enough to keep Miami’s slim playoff hopes alive — they were extinguished the same evening when the Detroit Pistons pulled off a 20-point comeback in the second half to upend the Memphis Grizzlies — it was the perfect way to cap Wade’s Hall of Fame career at AmericanAirlines Arena, the scene of some of his greatest triumphs.
“It’s meant everything,” Wade said after the game. “To be able to come here and be embraced, to find a home, to be able to grow. I think that’s the one thing. When I was on the court early on and Stan [Van Gundy] let me grow, as a player, to whether it was mistakes I made in life to whatever it was, this city has allowed me to grow.
“I hope they are proud of what they have helped me become. This city means everything to me. It’s forever, forever, forever going to be my home.”
Judging by the crowd’s reactions throughout the game, it seems safe to assume fans are plenty proud of Wade’s many accomplishments.
And on this night, the Heat celebrated all of them, beginning with a pregame ceremony complete with a video tribute of Wade’s career that was narrated by a combination of family and significant figures from his legendary career.
“Man, you’re going to make me cry before this game,” Wade said once the video tribute was done. “Man, I love you guys.
“I’m thankful for this moment. I’m thankful for this entire season.”
Wade, who was standing next to his oldest son, Zaire, and clearly was still emotional, then thanked every one of his teammates this season — including those who had since been cut or traded — by name.
“I thank you guys for dancing with me this year,” Wade said. “I thank you guys for your patience this year. I thank you for all your love and for you having my back this year.
“I’ve got some brothers that will always be my brothers. I love you guys.”
The tribute video began with Erik Spoelstra, who has been Wade’s head coach for most of the past decade and whose first season as a full-time NBA assistant coincided with Wade’s rookie season.
It then transitioned to Shaquille O’Neal, who narrated the first act of Wade’s career — covering the championship they won together in 2006.
Dwyane Wade swaps jerseys with Jimmy Butler, takes a team photo with the Heat and then also swaps with his son Zaire Wade.
Barack Obama praises Dwyane Wade in funny video about saying goodbye to a career…
From there, it shifted to the second act — narrated by LeBron James and covering both the Big Three era in Miami, which saw the Heat win two titles and reach four NBA Finals in as many years, and Wade leaving to go to the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2015.
“Pressure like that could’ve hindered you,” James said of the challenges that faced those Heat teams, “but instead, it hardened you, fortifying you as a player, a man and a leader.
“Then you reached the top of the mountain twice more. Different cast, same conclusion.
“Your second act saw your arrival as one of the most respected athletes on earth and your departure from the home that helped you get there,” James continued.
The final act, including Wade’s return to Miami last season, was narrated by three people: Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union; Udonis Haslem, Wade’s longtime teammate; and Pat Riley, who either coached or ran the Heat for Wade’s entire career.
“We cheered, we cried, we chanted your name all throughout the city and up to the rafters,” Union said. “It was more than a reunion, it was a revival of the part you were meant to play — from ‘Flash’ to ‘Father Prime.'”
“And now, as you take the stage one final time, we celebrate you,” Haslem said, “… as the player that fell down seven times, and stood up eight.”
“Because no matter what new narratives lie ahead,” Riley concluded, “know that this city will always be proud to rep your name across our backs, just as you carried us on yours.
“Because this is, and forever will be, Wade County.”
Dirk Nowitzki announces retirement on emotional night in Mavericks home finale
Jason Owens | Yahoo Sports
Dallas Mavericks fans have anticipated it. NBA commissioner Adam Silver assumed it. But all season long, Dirk Nowitzki wouldn’t confirm it.
Following a 30-point effort in a win over the Phoenix Suns, Nowitzki announced that he’s retiring from the NBA.
The news came on the heels of a season full of speculation over Nowitzki’s future plans and a pregame setup that hinted that this might be his last game in Dallas.
Nowitzki: ‘I’ve put you guys on a hell of a ride’
“As you guys might expect, this is my last home game,” Nowitzki told an American Airlines Center crowd that forced him to pause his postgame speech to give him an ovation. “I’m trying my yoga breathing but it’s not really working that well,” he joked as he choked back tears before thanking Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle, his teammates and fans.
“I’ve put you guys on a hell of a ride with a lot of ups and downs. You guys always stuck with me and supported me. So I appreciate it.”
NBA stars pay tribute to Dirk
NBA legends showed up to honor Nowitzki as Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf took part in his retirement ceremony.
“I’m so blessed to have been in the NBA for 30-something years, Barkley said. “The first thing people say is ‘What’s this guy like, what’s this guy like?’ Cause all of these guys are great players.”
“Let me say this about Dirk Nowitzki. He’s the nicest man ever. Hey, it’s been an honor and a privilege to watch you. Enjoy the rest of your life.”
Dirk’s last game in Dallas
Nowitzki received a hero’s welcome from hundreds of team and arena employees at American Airlines Center as he arrived for the home finale against the Suns.
The team also provided oversized Dirk heads in every seat to commemorate the occasion, hinting that something more than a basketball game was in store.
Nowitzki starts, scores first 10 Mavericks points
Nowitzki got the start against the Suns and one last roaring ovation from the Mavericks faithful in pregame introductions.
Nowitzki, who averaged 6.6 points per game this season, went on to score the first 10 points for the Mavericks as no other Dallas player took a field-goal attempt until Devin Harris’ 3-pointer at the 7:25 mark of the first quarter.
Nowitzki retires as one of basketball’s transcendent players, an NBA icon without a hole in his résumé. Nowitzki made 14 All-Star games and earned All-NBA honors 12 times in his 21-year NBA career played entirely with the Mavericks.
He won league MVP honors in 2007 and led the Mavericks to their only NBA championship in 2011, defeating a loaded Miami Heat team that featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, winning Finals MVP honors in the process.
A 7-footer with a sweet jumper, Nowitzki helped usher in the modern NBA that demands its big men stretch the floor and shoot from distance.
His fadeaway jumper was one of the game’s most unstoppable weapons, leaving defenders helpless to challenge a shot they couldn’t reach.
Nowitzki averaged 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point distance over his 21 years in the league.
He leaves behind a legacy as one of basketball’s greatest offensive players and a beloved icon in Dallas and beyond.