Pat Riley on Dwyane Wade in 2006 NBA Finals: ‘The greatest player on the planet’

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It’s a safe bet that Miami Heat president Pat Riley will never forget what Dwyane Wade did for the organization in the 2006 NBA Finals.

Riley recently said that Wade was the “greatest player on the planet” in the 2006 championship series when the third-year player led the Heat to their first NBA title in franchise history.

The 2005-06 campaign was Wade’s age-24 season. In the regular season, he was fantastic, averaging 27.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.

But in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, he went to another place. He averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, including a 42-point showing and 43-point showing.

Wade, especially at his age, stole the show and won Finals MVP honors in the process. He got some help from Shaquille O’Neal along the way, who was a phenomenal second option for the Heat all season long.

In 2012 and 2013, Wade won two more NBA titles, although those ones looked a lot different. He got the job done those years with the help of LeBron James and Chris Bosh while the rest of the league struggled to keep up with Miami’s Big 3.

This weekend, Wade will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame, giving him perhaps the biggest accolade attainable. In addition to his three rings and 2006 Finals MVP nod, the Heat legend finished his career with 13 All-Star selections and eight All-NBA bids.

It was a long and iconic career for the former lottery pick, who believes he’d still be playing today if not for injuries.

Although his playing career is over, he’s still finding ways to get involved with the sport. He’s now a partial owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and WNBA’s Chicago Sky. He’ll have a chance to add more rings to his collection through those avenues, though the journey to get there is going to look a little different than it did when he was an NBA player.

Wade’s love for the game will likely keep him around it for as long as he’s alive, and he’ll always be an NBA legend.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.