Dwyane Wade leaving the Miami Heat signals the end of an era for the franchise. With Wade as their franchise star, the Heat were always an elite team in the East and he lead them to three championships in the 13 seasons he was in Miami. Despite Wade's importance, the organization didn't respond financially with an offer of his liking, so now he is a member of the Chicago Bulls.
For the Heat, the losing Wade is significant, to say the least, and Riley lamented the loss of his franchise superstar in a long text message exchange with Dan Le Batard. Here's more from that exchange in Le Batard's Miami Herald column:
"SADDDDDDD!!!! SO saddddddd! I will never forget the sixth game in Dallas in 2006. DW rebounded the ball, and threw it to the heavens and the Heat universe was perfect for that moment. Our first world championship. Our universe is not perfect today. It will be fraught with anger, judgment, blame instead of THANK YOU!!! Ten years ago. Ten years older. Ten years wiser. Ten years changed. All of us. Dwyane had a choice, and he made it. He went home. Bad, bad summer for us. But there will be another 10 years, and it will be someone or something else in 2026. Move on with no blood or tears. Just thanks. I truly loved Dwyane, but families grow, change and get on with another life. He will always be a part of us. ALWAYS! And no more bruises and enough fighting. Let's just fly above it if we can and never forget. I feel his pain and pride for what pushed him over the ledge. Been there. Forever, for always, your coach I will be. FOREVER!"
One reason why Riley's text was so long is because he was too emotional to talk to Le Batard about Wade departure, which is quite understandable. After all, they spent over a decade together and the two had developed a rather unique and strong relationship.
But despite their strong relationship and Riley's emotional text, interestingly enough, Riley reportedly never even called Wade when he was in talks with the Bulls:
While you're watching Kelly Ripa, one more nugget: Pat Riley never called Dwyane Wade during the entire process.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 7, 2016
Right now, why Riley didn't heavily pursue Wade this offseason is anyone's guess. He likely knows that the Heat would've had to move on from Wade eventually and perhaps for Riley, now was that time. Yet as Riley's lengthy text shows, he holds Wade in very high regard so his lack of contact with him during free agency is rather curious. Especially since now Wade has left Miami and has made Riley so sad.