It’s official: Heat icon Dwyane Wade elected to Hall of Fame as part of 2023 class

·7 min read
D.A. Varela/

What was considered a formality is now official: Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Wade has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2023 class in the first year that he’s eligible for consideration. A player must be fully retired for four full seasons before being qualified to be enshrined, and Wade just met that threshold after retiring at the end of the 2018-19 season.

The entire 2023 class was unveiled Saturday morning in Houston, the site of this year’s men’s NCAA Final Four. It’s a loaded class that also includes Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker; coaches Gregg Popovich, Gene Keady, Gary Blair, David Hixon, Gene Bess and Jim Valvano; and former WNBA players Becky Hammon. The 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s team will also be enshrined as part of this year’s class.

The induction ceremony for the 2023 class is scheduled to take place on Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass.

“To be in this class with some of the greatest players, international players, that’s ever played this game, with Tony, Pau and Dirk, I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Wade said on the ESPN broadcast shortly after the full 2023 class was announced. “And I’m just super honored to be a part of this class, and all the coaches that are a part of this class, the great coaches, the storylines that everyone has.”

What did Wade immediately think when he first received the news that he was selected to be in the Hall of Fame?

“I went back to the very start of finding the love for the game of basketball and why I started doing it,” Wade said on ESPN. “I went back to my first coach, which is my father. I went back to my support system at the beginning, and that 17-year-old Dwyane who decided to put everything he had into his dream. And here I go, 20-something years later I’m able to sit here on the stage and say that I think my hard work paid off.

“So I’m just very, very thankful and very humbled in this moment just to be here. And this is basketball heaven. To be able to end your career and say that you’re going to basketball heaven, that’s what movies are made of, that’s what books are written about.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is already looking forward to Wade’s Hall of Fame moment.

“This class is insane,” Spoelstra said ahead of the Heat’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night at Miami-Dade Arena. “It’s going to be a really fun weekend. But certainly to finally get it stamped officially is a great moment.”

It will be a busy summer for Spoelstra, who will serve as a Team USA assistant coach for the Aug. 25-Sept. 10 World Cup in the Philippines. Spoelstra will have to take a break from preparing for that tournament to be at the induction ceremony.

Wade’s close friend and longtime Heat teammate Udonis Haslem also plans to in Springfield to share that experience.

“It speaks for itself,” Haslem said of Wade’s NBA career. “First-ballot, two-way player, played both ends. I think he leads guards in blocked shots and he’s only 6-4 or something like that. Just a tremendous talent, man. I’ve been blessed to play with some great players and he’s right at the top of the list.”

Already enshrined in the Hall of Fame for careers that included time with the Heat are Tim Hardaway, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Pat Riley. Former Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo is also in the Hall of Fame.

Riley said in a statement issued by the Heat on Saturday: “We are all so proud of Dwyane as a first ballot recipient, selected to be enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. What an honor! It is earned and deserved!!”

Wade, 41, is widely considered as the greatest player in Heat history. His No. 3 jersey was retired by the Heat in February 2020.

Wade, who was drafted by Miami in 2003, is the Heat’s all-time leader in categories like points, games played, minutes played, assists and steals and is considered one of the top shooting guards in NBA history. Among his most impressive accomplishments: Three championships with the Heat (2006, 2012, 2013), a Finals MVP award in 2006 and an NBA scoring title in the 2008-09 season.

Wade’s NBA career lasted 16 seasons and it included 13 All-Star Game selections. He spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Heat before briefly leaving to spend the 2016-17 season with the Chicago Bulls and part of the 2017-18 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then was traded back to Miami midway through the 2017-18 season and went on to end his career as a member of the Heat.

Wade, who purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz in April 2021, was in Miami recently and attended the Heat’s win over the New York Knicks at Miami-Dade Arena on March 22.

“You never want to take anything for granted,” Wade said on ESPN. “And like Pau and I share a brother in Kobe Bryant, and all of us, we share a brother who didn’t get an opportunity to take these steps that we’re taking today. So I think just all of us are really numb in this moment, just really taking it all in, because we understand the importance of each day. And so I’m just happy to get to this day and can’t wait to get to August 11th and 12th.”


The Heat will be without starting center Bam Adebayo on Saturday against the Mavericks because of a right hip contusion that he suffered in Wednesday’s loss to the New York Knicks.

“He’s just not able to move,” Spoelstra said of Adebayo prior to Saturday’s game. “He couldn’t play in a game tonight. But he is getting better.”

The Heat will also be without Jamal Cain (G League), Nikola Jovic (back spasms) and Orlando Robinson (G League) on Saturday.

With the Washington Wizards’ loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday night, the Heat clinched no worse than a berth in the play-in tournament, which includes the seventh- through 10th-place teams competing for the final two playoffs seeds in each conference.

The Heat is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

With South Florida represented by two teams in this year’s men’s NCAA Final Four, Spoelstra showed his support for both Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami on Friday.

“I don’t know [FAU coach Dusty] May yet,” Spoelstra said. “But I’m looking forward to hopefully having an opportunity to meet him this offseason. I think it’s really just amazing what they’ve done with the program and upped the interest and then having success. It is hard not to root for that program with what he and his staff have been able to do and all the players. I did reach out to coach [Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga]. I showed him a picture of my sons trying to do the ‘U’ after the game because we watched the second half of the game.”

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement early Saturday morning. It is still pending ratification, but the Associated Press reported that the deal will begin this summer and will last at least through the 2028-29 season.

Among the noteworthy details of the new CBA, according to the AP: The in-season tournament will become a reality, players will have to appear in at least 65 games in order to be eligible for individual awards, and a second luxury tax level will be implemented that when reached will keep teams from using their midlevel exception to sign players.