Nowitzki revealed their new relationship status heading into the ceremonies next weekend.
“Seemingly not so great, at least to many Mavericks fans, is that Nowitzki will be sharing the Assembly Hall stage and weekend limelight with Miami Heat nemesis and fellow HOF Class of ’23 member Dwyane Wade,” wrote Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
“Nowitzki and Wade clashed, physically on the hardwood and verbally off-court, in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals. Miami rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win in ’06; Dallas exacted revenge in ’11. Both series were clinched in Game 6 on the losing team’s homecourt.
“Nowitzki, however, sounds genuinely glad that he’ll be enshrined with Wade. Nowitzki said he and Wade ‘actually bonded’ in Houston in early April when the Hall Class of ’23 was announced.
“‘Obviously we’ve gone through a lot, some ups and downs,’ Nowitzki said. ‘But at the end of the day he is one of the greatest players ever to play the game, so it’s an honor to have him in the class.’
“If any hard feelings lingered in the next four years, they seemingly were buried in Houston four months ago.
“‘We sat together with his family during one of the dinners, and we talked,’ Nowitzki said. ‘And so I think it’s going to be great. I think there’s a lot of mutual respect there now.'”
Nowitzki’s former teammate J.J. Barea once went as far as to say that Nowitzki “hated” Wade and Miami’s entire Big 3, and that had him highly motivated to defeat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. It ended up being Nowitzki’s only title in 21 NBA seasons, all played with the Mavericks.
Wade recently said he regrets the way he dealt with LeBron James during that series, when the superstar was playing below expectations.
Back in 2019, Nowitzki had softened his stance toward Wade somewhat, mentioning “mutual respect” but acknowledging some “frosty times” in the past between the two all-time greats.
Wade and the Heat defeated Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals for Miami’s first championship. Wade later won two more titles playing with James and Chris Bosh and maintains that his status among the league’s best players ever would have been even greater if not for injuries. The 41-year-old recently joined the ownership group of the Chicago Sky in the WNBA.
Wade averaged 22.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per outing in his 1,054 regular season NBA games. Nowitzki averaged 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in his 1,522 regular season contests.
They will be enshrined along with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon and Gregg Popovich.
Wade also had very memorable moments against San Antonio Spurs guard Parker and head coach Popovich, splitting two appearances in the NBA Finals, with the Heat winning the title in 2013 but losing the rematch in 2014.
It promises to be a memorable weekend for all involved, with grudges built from competition naturally put aside to celebrate all that the inductees have accomplished.