Former Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade is arguably the best player in franchise history. Wade was recently included in the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team, which rightfully forged his name into the history books as one of the greatest of the sport. But like any other fairy-tale ending, there is a sad story attached to it. Wade die-hards probably know about it now. Their hero had a tough road to the NBA. Even though he was oozing with basketball skills, Wade almost missed out on college due to a confluence of factors.
Wade did not pass his ACT test
"This is a game that I fought very hard to play. My mom went to jail when I was nine. My dad was in and out of jail. Growing up, I did not pass my ACT test to go to college. I had a baby in college. Like all these things that will stop you from reaching your goals, and I kept fighting. I kept fighting because it was my dream," Wade said, per CBS News.
It would be foolish to assume that Wade could've made it to the NBA even if he missed out on college. The reality is that the road to the big league in the early 2000s was very different from today. Back then, college was the only coveted path to the league. Other courses exist. But getting your name called by then NBA Commissioner David Stern carried a lot of prestige.
College is not the only path to NBA today
Nowadays, top prospects can outright skip college and trek another route — a path that isn't as wobbly as it was before. For example, Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball honed his skills in the JBA and abroad right after high school. Before Ball, Emmanuel Mudiay and Brandon Jennings played professionally overseas before being drafted into the NBA. Jalen Green, the second overall pick of the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Draft, signed up for the NBA G League Ignite — a developmental basketball team affiliated with the NBA G League. In the coming years, we may see all sorts of talent enter the league from uncharted territories.
Wade's story could be chronicled together with other backstage narratives of NBA greats. Like when Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. Or when scouts deemed Stephen Curry was too small and frail to survive in the NBA. Or the greats like Manu Ginobili, Maurice Cheeks, Gilbert Arenas, Nikola Jokic, and Draymond Green, who were picked in the second round of the NBA Draft. These tales prove that nothing is certain. As the cliche goes, talent only gets you one step ahead of the pack. Diligence is what keeps you moving.