While the Heat were waiting for Chris Kaman’s workout to start, a 6-5 guard from Marquette was having a tryout of his own on the other end of the gym. Pat was like, ‘Who’s that kid down there?’ It was Dwyane Wade, and he caught Riley’s eye immediately. And good thing he did, because as it turns out, someone else was eyeing Flash.
The Cavaliers taking LeBron James was a lock, and Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony was most people’s pick for going at number two. That’s until the Pistons violated a million rules, putting Darko Miličić through a workout, and eventually sealing the 17-year-old prospect with the No. 2 pick in the Draft.
“Obviously we knew LeBron was going number one. Darko comes out of nowhere, we didn’t know anything about Darko so automatically Carmelo’s going two, we know that. Those were the top two players in our draft till Darko came in.”Dwyane Wade, OM3 Podcast w/JJ Reddick
While Bron, Darko, and Melo earned the most attention, there were still potential All-Stars waiting for their names to be called. Dwyane Wade was that tier of prospect, but questions about his shooting and ball-handling abilities had him going as low as 20th on some draft projections.
Chris Bosh and I had the same agent, and I knew he was going to go 4th to Toronto, I just felt that. So I’m sitting there, and I’m like ‘okay, I’m projected to go anywhere from 4th to like 20th.Dwyane Wade, OM3 Podcast w/JJ Reddick
But as Dwyane discovered, falling out of the lottery wasn’t the option. Doc Rivers, the Orlando Magic’s head coach at the time, was all-in on drafting the young prospect from Marquette. He told Wade ‘if you’re there, I’m taking you.‘ Naturally, Flash was confident he was going to end up in Orlando. The duo of him and T-Mac, who had just won his first NBA scoring title, would’ve been the best young pairing in the league. But Miami’s GM Randy Pfund had other plans.
I’m like ‘here we go, who’s going five?’ and next thing you know, my agent comes over, and he says, ‘hey, the Heat about to take you at five.’ I was like ‘whaaat?’ It was mind-boggling to me that I was about to go the fifth pick in a draft.Dwyane Wade, OM3 Podcast w/JJ Reddick
So that was the end of that. Or so we thought. A couple of years ago, Doc Rivers was asked about the ’03 Draft and his connection to Dwyane Wade. As it turns out, the draft-day deal was on the table – the one that would send the fifth pick to Orlando, if the Heat didn’t get the player they were hoping for. And with Chris Bosh no longer on the board, the Magic were hoping that’s exactly the boat Miami was in.
We had a trade for Wade on Draft Day. We thought we were going to get Dwyane. We had a deal with Miami that if they didn’t get their guy, we were gonna flip picks. When it got to their pick, we thought they were about to call us and tell us ‘let’s do the trade.’ Instead, they said, ‘we have our guy.’ we were crushed.Doc Rivers, ClutchPoints
And the Heat sure did get their guy. The guy that brought them three championships and completely changed the dynamic of the organization. And he could’ve done the same with the Magic. He and T-Mac would’ve been special together. The deal was literally a call away – but unfortunately for Orlando, the phone never rang.