Dwyane Wade Reveals Which Former Teammate Had Biggest Impact on His Career

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Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is closing out a legendary 16-year career on Wednesday night, having made an indelible impact on both the franchise and the league as a whole.

Yet Wade points to one former teammate as having had the biggest impact on his own career, Shaquille O’Neal.

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O’Neal was dealt from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Heat in July 2004, following Wade’s rookie season. His acquisition was part of a continuing effort by team president Pat Riley to build a championship-caliber squad, which eventually became a reality when the Heat won the 2006 NBA title.

Wade had been the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft and was named the 2003-04 NBA All-Rookie Team. His statistical averages as a rookie of 16.2 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game were notable, but O’Neal’s arrival led to a healthy increase in those departments.

During O’Neal’s first year in a Heat uniform, Wade averaged 24.1 points, 6.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds and would maintain similar numbers for most of the next decade. However, Wade truly entered the superstar stratosphere during the 2006 NBA Finals, when he led the franchise to their first-ever title.

In that series, the Heat battled back after losing the first two contests, with Wade leading the charge. He began the comeback with a double-double of 42 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3, then capped it with another double-double in Game 6 of 36 points and 10 boards.

O’Neal would be traded to Phoenix less than two years later, but his past success and leadership capabilities had rubbed off on Wade by that point. In 2010, Wade helped in persuading free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join the Heat.

Over the ensuing four seasons, the Heat reached the Finals every year and captured league titles in 2012 and 2013. Wade’s abilities and leadership were central components in the team’s success during that memorable span.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.