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Heat preparing warm welcome for Wade's return

Updated: 2016-11-11 07:15
By Associated Press in Miami (China Daily)

Heat preparing warm welcome for Wade's return

Chicago Bulls guard Dwayne Wade (Right) shoots the ball as Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague defends during the first half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, US on Oct 6, 2016. [Photo/Agencies] 

Dwyane Wade's former locker in the Miami Heat dressing room remains empty.

Dozens of photos of him still adorn walls all over the arena, including a giant one that every Heat player passes on their way to the court. And every championship banner that hangs from the rafters is there largely because of his work.

For 13 years, American Airlines Arena was his house.

For a few minutes on Thursday night, it will be again.

Wade is returning to Miami as an opponent for the first time, as the Chicago Bulls - his new team - visit for the only time this season.

Heat preparing warm welcome for Wade's return

The building will be jammed, the game will air on national television and the Heat will pay tribute with a highlight video that's certain to elicit some long, loud cheering from fans who never wanted to see him leave.

"It'll probably be emotional for me, too," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Wednesday. "But then we'll get into the game, and that's ultimately what it's all about."

Wade's entire NBA history before July was with Miami, where he was an All-Star 12 times in 13 years.

Drafted No 5 overall in 2003, he wound up pairing with Shaquille O'Neal to help deliver Miami's first title in 2006 and then lured LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Heat for what became four trips to the NBA Finals - and two more titles - in four seasons.

James left in 2014 shortly before Bosh got a $118 million contract from Miami that was negotiated by Henry Thomas, the agent Wade and Bosh shared.

That deal left the Heat somewhat limited in what they could pay Wade, and they almost lost him in 2015 before striking a one-year deal for $20 million.

No such agreement came last summer, and Wade left.

"I'm not wishing anything bad on that organization," Wade said in an ESPN interview earlier this week.

"I have nothing but love for everybody in that organization. And I want them to be successful, just as we all say, just not when they play the Bulls. But besides that, I want them to be successful."

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