CLEVELAND, Ohio — Condolences to Anderson Varejao.
Dwyane Wade playing his final game in Cleveland brought back plenty of memories for Cavaliers that grew up watching him before getting a chance to be on the other side.
Wade’s dunk over Varejao is the play that stands out.
“See now, you put me on the spot. I have one but it’s not Cleveland friendly,” Nance said to cleveland.com following Friday’s 100-94 loss. “I’m trying to come up with another one. But that’s the one. Alright fine. I apologize. Andy, grew up loving him as well, true Clevelander at heart, but man, that dunk.
“Wade took the Eurostep at the free throw line and dunked over 6-foot-10? That’s ridiculous. Then the cabbage patch down the court, that’s just the kind of thing that like, is there a player in the league that’s doing that right now? I don’t think so. That’s the type of thing that’s only him.”
Nance was at countless games growing up. He remembers watching many Wade battles with LeBron James and is still in awe of what Wade accomplished in 2006, helping the Heat rally from 0-2 in the NBA Finals against Dallas.
Unlike some of his other current teammates, Nance wasn’t around for Wade’s brief stint with the Cavs last season. Nance was sent to Cleveland in a trade deadline overhaul shortly before the front office traded Wade back to Miami.
“If you didn’t watch him you’re crazy,” Nance said. “D Wade is just one of those guys that, he’s one of the best to ever do it. He’s one of the top three shooting guards of all time and all that stuff. But for me, it’s more so that you’ve never heard a bad thing about him and he seems like a consummate professional on and off the court.
“I didn’t get the chance to play with him last year, but I really wish I would have because his IQ and the way he plays the game is just the right way. That’s somebody that if you’re not learning something from you are doing it wrong. Getting to play against a guy like that is invaluable.”
Wade, 37, scored 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting to go with six rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes Friday night. Not a bad finale.
Rookie Collin Sexton, who exchanged jerseys with Wade after the game, picked out the same highlight as Nance, when Wade went behind the back before throwing one down over Varejao and then capping the play by stepping over him.
“Growing up, I used to watch Dwyane Wade a whole lot,” Sexton said. “He was one of the players I looked up to and tried to take things away from his game that I could use in mine.”
Sexton and Wade have formed a tight bond over the last year. They are represented by the same agency (CAA) and Sexton reached out to Wade over the summer.
Earlier this month, when the Cavs played in Miami, Wade praised Sexton and shared a few words of encouragement for the youngster after the game.
“It means a whole lot,” Sexton said. “Everything he did for this whole game and him being someone I can go to and talk to is pretty cool.”
Cedi Osman scored a career-high 29 points in the game. After, he jokingly expressed disappointment in not receiving Wade’s jersey.
“I knew that he was going to switch with Collin,” Osman said. “One more game in Miami, so that’s good. I am going to ask for sure next time.”
But Osman has something a touch more meaningful: Knowledge.
Osman tried to soak up everything he could from Wade in the first half of last season. Osman was a rookie then, trying to get comfortable in a new country and trying to find his place in the NBA.
Along with LeBron, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon, Wade talked Osman through some tough times.
“He was trying to make you learn everything about basketball,” Osman said. “He helped me a lot and I really appreciate that. It was a great experience for me. He’s a living legend.”