Pat Riley says Dwyane Wade is the most admired and respected professional athlete in Florida history'
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Miami Heat president Pat Riley had some major praise for franchise icon Dwyane Wade, calling him the most respected professional athlete in the history of the state of Florida.

“For his tenure here, he’s probably the most respected, admired professional that we’ve ever seen in this state,” Riley said of Wade. “Yes, I would say that unequivocally.”

Riley compared Wade’s longevity with the team to those of other players, such as LeBron James, who have played professionally in Florida.

“LeBron was here for four years, but Dwyane was here for a lifetime,” Riley said. “And I don’t think you’ll ever see another player quite like Dwyane, in any sport, that’s going to surpass him — that can equal him.”

The 78-year-old said that what Wade has done for the community in Miami is “second to none.”

It’s hard to give more credit than what Riley said of Wade, who is a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023. He will be inducted alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich.

In his storied NBA career, Wade averaged 22.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field. He won a scoring title in the 2008-09 season and was an All-NBA selection eight times in his career.

A first-round pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade led the Heat to three NBA titles in his career. He won the first in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, winning the Finals MVP award in that series by averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Later on in his career, Wade teamed up with James and Chris Bosh to form a Big 3 in Miami. The trio went to four straight NBA Finals, winning two of them. James eventually left the franchise to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Wade spent the majority of his NBA career in Miami.

He did briefly leave Miami to play for the Chicago Bulls and Cavaliers, but he returned to the franchise to finish his career, making the All-Star Game in his final season (the 2018-19 campaign).

During his career, Wade hit a litany of clutch shots, and he kept Miami as a perennial playoff contender throughout most of his career.

Riley clearly appreciates all that Wade brought to the franchise, and it’ll be amazing to see the franchise’s greatest player finally get enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.