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When Dwyane Wade left the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2016, the underlying narrative was clear: he’d be back. At the time, tensions were high between Wade and Heat president Pat Riley, and their separation kept the team from imploding.

As cliched as it sounds, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wade has found himself back in Miami with a renewed perspective on Riley, the Heat and his career.

Following the loss of his agent, Henry Thomas, late this past January, Wade had the chance to see Riley and former teammate (and friend) Udonis Haslem at the funeral. A quick embrace from Riley was the last step that was needed to patch up any wayward feelings between the two.

“The hug that we embraced was real and it was all we needed,” Wade said about seeing Riley at Thomas’ service. “That’s it. That’s all we both needed. I walked away and I felt better about everything, without even getting into anything.”

The fact that a hug could signal the potential for Wade’s return to Dade County, is a testament to his and Riley’s class acts. Wade’s original choice to leave Miami was as simple as a financial disagreement, one that was handled without the scathing animosity that would have hampered the eventual reunion.

Even more important than Wade and Riley’s relationship, is Wade’s outlook on his new, old team.

“This is definitely a playoff team,” Wade said. “This is a team that a lot of teams around the NBA respect because of the way that they play the game.”

Further adding to his love of the franchise, Wade spoke of his willingness to accept any role he’s given, a stipulation that was unclear before he left two seasons ago. With and without Wade on the roster, head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat have adopted a “next guy up” philosophy.

Spoesltra doesn’t hesitate to bench players when they aren’t playing up to their potential. Similarly, he makes a point to believe in them when things are going well. Wade’s tolerance to playing for the 2018 Miami Heat, and not trying to relive his glory days, should sit well with Spoelstra’s discerning eye.

Right now, the future is still uncertain for Wade. He’s kept mum about his countdown to retirement, and at 36-years-old, Wade’s numbers are at career-lows.

However, one thing is for certain: the Vice Wade jerseys are going to sell like mad.