MIAMI, April 9 (UPI) -- Fans were wickedly warm at AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday in Miami, and it wasn't because of the pregame flames shot over the court during player introductions.
It was the man in the No. 3 jersey who has meant so much to the community that it was unofficially named "Wade County" in his honor. The man who teamed up with Shaquille O'Neal to win the franchise's first NBA Finals in 2006.
Faithful followers flocked to the Biscayne Blvd. building and serenaded Wade with "MVP" and "We want Wade" chants throughout the game against the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers. The future Hall of Famer played in the final home game of his career, after announcing he would retire after the season.
"I told everybody this year I'm going to go out in D-Wade fashion and I think I did that," Wade said.
The final home court number of his "One Last Dance" tour began with an eight-point tango in eight minutes of first quarter action. Wade walked off the court with a game-high 30 points in the 122-99 triumph.
He started for the first time all season and began the game running around the perimeter of the court, raising his arms and pumping up the sold-out crowd like he did all of those times during his prime years.
"I was soaking it in the entire game as much as possible," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I'm still amazed. I've seen him go into his bag of tricks so many times but I'm truly amazed he was able to perform at that level tonight."
"... I choked up right after the intros. i couldn't even concentrate at that point."
"He came out with that look right when the game started. His activity level, energy and attack mentality. He was able to put everything to the side and just focus on competition."
Tributes to Three
Brands like Budweiser and Gatorade put together video tributes to Wade that played during the game. Wade's wife Gabrielle Union, LeBron James, Pat Riley, Wade's children and others teamed up to narrate more footage, flooding Wade with thank you messages and appreciation.
Fans around the arena talked about their favorite Wade memories.
Former President Barack Obama's voice bellowed from the Jumbotron as he wished Wade well.
Wade said he couldn't keep track of all of the tributes, but plans to catch up on them.
"D-Wade, congratulations on a great run," Obama said. "Now, I know what you are going through, because saying goodbye to a career that you love is never easy. I've been there. In my case though, I didn't really have a choice, my knees were shot, so I had to give up basketball forever."
Wade gave the fans back one final shining moment, doing his trademark scorer's table jump before saluting the crowd.
The Heat legend plans to move to the West Coast after the final days of his NBA career. Spoelstra is holding out hope Wade returns to Biscayne Blvd. to help advise future Heat teams as an "honorary coach."