Since entering the league in 2003, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade—who is in the midst of his ‘Farewell Tour’ in 2018-19—has seen it all. Wade won three championships in his career and has come across a number of players and teams that are in the history books.
Wade faced a Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks team in the 2006 NBA Finals, an Oklahoma City Thunder team led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in 2012, and the storied San Antonio Spurs in 2013.
In a recent interview with Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, Wade said none of those teams were the toughest he ever had faced, but the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls were.
“I think, ultimately for us, we just had a little bit more talent [against Chicago},” said Wade. “And even though we beat them in five, it wasn’t that easy. They definitely made us work for it. But we were just a more talented team. They played as hard as any team that we ever played.”
The 2010-11 Bulls were led by Derrick Rose who became the youngest Most Valuable Player in NBA history that season. Chicago’s 62-20 record was an NBA-best as they stormed through the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. All of this came to an end, though, when Rose and the Bulls matched up against Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
Chicago blew out Miami in Game 1 of the series, 103-82, but the rest was downhill from there. Wade and Co. went on to win four straight games to close out the series 4-1. Miami met Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals and was defeated 4-2.
Chicago’s 2010-11 season was the team’s best since the Michael Jordan era came to an end in 1998. Chicago had an extremely versatile roster with valuable players like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, and Brian Scalabrine alongside Rose.
This team was destined to become one of the league’s best for years to come, but a year later—in Game 1 of the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs—Rose tore his ACL and his injury-plagued career began to take shape. Chicago had some success in the following seasons, but could not be as great a team they were in 2010-11 with a healthy Rose.
Out of all teams Dwyane Wade has faced, it is not the Mavericks, Thunder, or Spurs; it’s the Rose-led Chicago Bulls.
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