Dwyane Wade had to defend some of the greatest players in NBA history during his lengthy Hall of Fame career, and the former Miami Heat star recently named some unexpected opponents as the toughest ones he had to guard.
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“I always go with guys like Ray Allen and Rip (Richard) Hamilton,” Wade said when asked to name the toughest player for him to guard. “They moved. I hated that. I hated guarding those dudes, especially Rip, because he had them nails too.”
Allen is a fellow Hall of Famer who ended his own long career with two seasons with the Heat, concluding with the 2013-14 campaign. He and Wade were teammates on Miami’s 2013 NBA championship team but faced off many times previously, most notably when Allen was starring for the Boston Celtics in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Also a league champion in 2008 with the Celtics and 10-time All-Star, Allen averaged 18.9 points per game over his 18 NBA seasons. He made one of the most memorable shots in NBA history, a 3-pointer that kept the Heat alive in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami won that game in overtime and then captured Game 7 to take the title.
Hamilton also won an NBA title himself, in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons. That 2003-04 season was the same one when Wade debuted for the Heat, so their careers overlapped until Hamilton left the league following the 2012-13 campaign with the Chicago Bulls.
Coincidentally, Allen and Hamilton both played collegiately at the University of Connecticut, and each was a top-10 pick in the NBA draft.
In his 14 NBA seasons, Hamilton averaged 17.1 points per game. He may have developed a questionable reputation during that time, with Matt Barnes calling him “dirty as f—” in the discussion with Wade.
“Me and Rip got into it a lot of times,” Wade said. “Rip put them nails in you to start the game, you like, ‘Rip, this is the tip. The ball just tipped.'”
The Heat legend played 16 NBA seasons himself, ending with the 2018-19 campaign in Miami after brief stints with the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. A 13-time All-Star, he won three NBA titles with the Heat (2006, 2012 and 2013).
Like Allen and Hamilton, Wade was better known for his offensive game and averaged 22.0 points per contest in his career.
It can be interesting to hear from a great player about his recollections on opponents he faced, and Wade has provided an interesting take about his experiences against Allen and Hamilton, two of the better scorers of their era.