In an emotional speech delivered Saturday night at his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade ended the 3 1/2-hour ceremony with his trademark flourish of charisma, grace, appreciation — and flash.
Among the highlights of Wade’s speech:
— Wade opened by asking, “Heat Nation, you’all in here?”
— A rousing “Let’s Go Heat!” ovation followed.
— He then spoke of the irony of entering the Hall along with Dirk Nowitzki, having vanquished Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, and then with Nowitzki and the Mavericks having vanquished Wade and the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. “For Dirk and me, it’s been therapy,” he said with a smile. “Who would have thought we would be on the same team after all of our battles?”
— From there, he opened his speech with, “Here’s my final love letter,” adding, “I had the chance to see the way basketball bonded people.”
— Of his early basketball obsession, he said, “I look back on those days as some of the best of my life,” while also noting, “I was clumsy as hell back then.”
— That led to talk of his youth in Chicago and idolizing Michael Jordan, “By 17, basketball was my soul’s love language.”
— Adding, “The game is how I discovered who I could become,” and, “Through the game, I discovered who showed up for me when I win, and when I lose.”
— After chronicling his career surgeries, he said, “I’m on this stage because my beliefs have always been stronger than anyone’s doubts,” and, “The blows you take are fuel.”
— There then were thanks for all his former coaches, including the Heat’s Pat Riley, Stan Van Gundy and Erik Spoelstra, for helping him learn to play with a “Mount Rushmore of talent like Shaq and LeBron.”
— Noting that “the game gave me a lifetime of amazing memories,” he cited supporting Heat teammates such as Dorell Wright, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Eddie Jones, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Antoine Walker and Mario Chalmers.
— Next mentioned were fellow Heat leading men Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
— Of James, he said, “I watched him not take one single night off of being great.”
— There then were words for retiring Heat captain Udonis Haslem and “the protection he provided me on and off the court.”
– After introducing several career influences, including Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, he noted wife Gabrielle Union and said, “Thank you for learning every ref’s name and screaming at them, so I didn’t have to, and saving me a lot of fine money.”
— He ended his speech by bringing his father to the stage, so they together could take what he called their, “rightful step into basketball heaven.”
— With the two on stage, he concluded with, “We in the Hall of Fame, dawg.”
Other Wade- and Heat-related moments from Saturday’s induction night:
— Allen Iverson, who sat alongside as a presenter as Wade spoke, arrived wearing a sports coat with Wade’s name and No. 3 on the back.
— Of Iverson, Wade said during his speech, “You are a living, breathing reminder that redemption and growth are possible.”
— Wade added, “You are the culture and we love you and we thank you, Allen Iverson.”
— As he entered Symphony Hall for the ceremony, Riley again reflected on Wade, first saying, “He’s our prodigal son,” and then adding, “Dwyane is a special, special human being.”
— During a pre-ceremony interview on NBA TV, Wade, 41, spoke of still being in game shape, “I’m 217, Pat. What you got for me? I’m 217. How much money y’all got left?”
— During that interview, Wade cited Isiah Thomas as the greatest player from his Chicago hometown, and also noted the influences of fellow Chicago products and contemporaries Quentin Richardson, Darius Miles and Corey Maggette.
— Wade’s interview briefly was interrupted by a video bomb from former Heat forward and fellow Hall of Famer Chris Bosh, similar to those offered during the Heat’s Big Three era.
— Former Heat guard Ray Allen also spoke on NBA TV, noting of the quartet of NBA players inducted Saturday — Wade, Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker — “each of their own ways, they changed the game.”
— During his speech, Parker noted with a laugh how even with two fierce NBA Finals battles with his San Antonio Spurs against the Heat that Wade was the favorite player of Parker’s little brother. “D-Wade, we played twice in the NBA Finals,” Parker said, “and people don’t know that, but he’s my little brother’s favorite player. So every time he would come to the house and be like, ‘D-wyane Waaaaade!’ Like all the time. And I’d be like, ‘Man, can you stop it, you’re my own brother.’ ”
— During the video introducing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Riley said, “Pop has given the NBA a blueprint in how to run a team.”
— And during the introductory video for Nowitzki, Bosh said, “He brought so much to the game that you always felt you were a step behind.”
— Of entering in a class with so many prime rivals, Nowitzki said, “I didn’t always like you guys. We competed at the highest level.”
— Then, during the introductory video for Wade, LeBron James offered five simple words to describe his former teammate, “Flash. Speed. Power. Elegance. Shiftiness.”