Standing Tall And Standing Up

In sports, as in life, timing is crucial.  In most years, the induction ceremonies for the Basketball Hall of Fame have been held in early fall, just as the leaves in Springfield, Massachusetts are beginning to turn.  It’s lovely in that part of the world, and the induction ceremonies draw applause, but rarely the level of attention that baseball and football ceremonies, typically held within days of each other in the summer, achieve.  This year, due in part to the upcoming FIBA World Championships and, one might think, a desire to be more in the zeitgeist moment, the Basketball Hall of Fame picked the weekend after the NFL, and shortly after when baseball honored its immortals, to install the class of 2023.

Opportunisitically, this was one of the more populist and breakthrough classes in recent memory, as CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger recapped:

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2023 has officially been inducted after a ceremony on Saturday night that involved laughs, tears and immense gratitude all around. It’s one of the more star-studded classes in recent memory, highlighted by Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Becky Hammon. All 11 individuals, plus the entire 1976 Olympic women’s basketball team, can now call themselves Hall of Famers.

And per DEADSPIN’s Stephen Knox, the magnitude of the impacts these champions had on the game cannot be overstated:

The way that the NBA game is currently played — the spacing, position fluidity, the resting of stars during the regular season — all of that and more has been in the works for 20 years. Prioritizing 3-point shooting to maximize room for drivers and post players did not start and end with Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets. However, more than a simple style of play change was represented at the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The 1976 USA Women’s National Basketball Team, Gregg Popovich, Becky Hammon, Dirk Nowitski, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Dwayne Wade all helped change the way that basketball looks and sounds.

But at the risk of being considered a “homer”, because as most regular readers know I’ve got perhaps an unhealthy bias toward Heat culture for reasons unique to me, I have to call out the moving tribute that Wade made as perhaps the most inspirational moments of all.

As Ben Steele of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL reported,

The emotional high point was Wade bringing his father on stage.  

“We had the same exact dream and we carry the exact name, Dwyane Tyrone Wade,” Wade said. “To know we hustled all the way to the Basketball Hall of Fame is God’s will. So Pops, I know your knees are a little sore, but will you join me on stage as we take our rightful step into basketball heaven?”

Wade also talked about the obstacles he overcame to reach the hall of fame.

“My mom went to jail when I was 9,” he said. “My dad was in and out of jail. I didn’t pass my ACT test… I had a baby in college. All these things that’ll stop you from reaching your goals, I kept fighting because it was my dream.”

That baby, son Zaire, is now 20.  But it is his unwavering support of his second child that is perhaps most illustrative of the kind of father the second Dwyane Tyrone Wade is.  As PEOPLE’s Angela Andaloro reported:

Zaya Wade is proud to call Dwyane Wade her dad.

Honoring the 41-year-old retired Miami Heat star after his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, the 16-year-old took to Instagram to share some special words for him.

“My dad is a Hall of Famer 🖤 I’ve never been more proud in my life to know someone as kind, loving, and accepting as he is,” she wrote.

Earlier this year, Dwyane gave an emotional speech at the NAACP Image Awards as the couple accepted the President’s Award. They used the opportunity to speak about championing the fight for LGBTQ rights, giving the speech just one day after Zaya’s legal name change and gender assignment.

“Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public scrutiny,” he said. “And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself. I admire how you’ve handled ignorance in our world. I admire it that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”

Dwyane continued: “As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.”

“Zaya, you’ve made me a better human by just simply being who you were born to be, our baby girl Zaya Wade. So baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I’m proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father. And thank you so much to the NAACP for this incredible honor,” he added.

This fatherly love is perhaps the most significant reason why there is little chance you’ll see much of the Wades at Heat events in the near future.  Wonderful as those memories are, they are housed in a state currently run by Ron DeSantis, and includes as its residents people who abhor the likes of Zaya Wade.  Including one obese orange Jesus who might yet become the leader of the free world yet again.

So Wade now is trying to build the Utah Jazz into a champion, and also has tentacles to the WNBA Chicago Sky.  And after this moving speech, who knows what else might lie ahead?

You know, there is precedent for a good-looking basketball lover from Chicago to go far in the world.


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