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A trio of legendary nights with Dwyane Wade as he says goodbye to the NBA — The Undefeated

A trio of legendary nights with Dwyane Wade as he says goodbye to the NBA — The Undefeated

Reside within the second. It’s a motto that many preach and few truly apply. However Dwyane Wade isn’t most individuals. His season-long #OneLastDance is proof: a case research, truly, in gratitude and the significance of being current. Tuesday night time, the icon who took his skills to Miami in 2003, the place he has performed with the Warmth for all however 1½ seasons — takes to the courtroom for his last regular-season residence recreation.

There are two methods to view Wade’s profession. One is by way of the sheer audacity of his accomplishments.

He could have scored greater than 23,000 factors.

He’s a 13-time All Star, and the 2010 All-Star Recreation MVP.

Wade is a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist and eight-time All-NBA choice.

That he’s a three-time All-Defensive choice might have one thing to do with the truth that, when it comes to guards, Wade is the NBA’s all-time chief in blocks.

The Miami Warmth’s Dwyane Wade talks to the media whereas holding the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy after defeating the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder in Recreation 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals at American Airways Area on June 21.

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Pictures

All of which offers context for him being a three-time NBA champion and the 2006 Finals MVP. Wade is sort of merely the best capturing guard of all time — not named Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.

The second solution to respect Wade is thru the prism of the cultural influence he’s had on skilled basketball, and on the world round him. There’s his very public journey of fatherhood — together with his current prolonged paternity depart. Wade as wielding his voice and platform on this new golden period of participant social activism. Married to actor, writer, and philanthropist Gabrielle Union he’s one-half of an influence couple with international affect. Wade’s trend dangers and style firsts are indelible. And, in fact, there’s Wade’s crucial position in forming and preserving the 2010-14 Miami Warmth — the staff that unequivocally modified the look, the texture, the type and bravado of NBA basketball ever after.

However now, after 16 campaigns, it’s over. Wade’s farewell has been the NBA’s best storyline of the 2018-19 season. “This yr has allowed me simply to play and be free and not likely care,” Wade advised me in February. “If I rating 22, if I rating two — I’m having fun with the method … this journey, that I’m ending … It actually permits me to reside within the second and simply take pleasure in all of it. Usually as an athlete you don’t get to.”

I joined Wade at three of his final NBA video games. On March 22, Miami was at Milwaukee, close to the place he performed school ball. As a participant, he stepped on courtroom at New York Metropolis’s Madison Sq. Backyard for the final time on March 30. After which there was his final recreation at American Airways Area on April 9 towards Philadelphia. One final experience.

CHAPTER ONE: THE WARM-UP

Marquette head coach Tom Crean talks with Dwyane Wade in the course of the closing minutes of their recreation with East Carolina, Dec 30, 2002, at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina.

AP Photograph/ Karl DeBlaker

MILWAUKEE — Now head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, former Marquette Golden Eagles coach Tom Crean has witnessed the legend of Dwyane Wade a number of occasions. There was the 2001 31-point explosion towards Tennessee in The Nice Alaska Shootout. Then there was the victory two nights later towards Indiana. However the second? The one which put a whole nation on discover? That’s Feb. 27, 2003, when Wade, Crean and No. 10 Marquette, on the street, defeated No. 11 Louisville.

“[Dwyane] makes a transfer in entrance of our bench,” says Crean. “He begins out on a drive so it’s on the left wing, behind the Three-point line. … He will get a dribble out in entrance of him, he lifts the man, does a spin dribble, OK?” Pleasure rises in Crean’s voice. “[Wade] spin dribbles, shot fakes, lifts the man and shoots it off the backboard … principally beat three individuals to the rim.”

Sportscaster Dick Vitale, per standard, couldn’t include himself. This was the identical yr highschool phenom LeBron James was a one-man sports activities information cycle. The yr Carmelo Anthony’s freshman season at Syracuse was the school hoops storyline. However now a brand new identify was tossed to the hysteria and into the most effective draft courses in NBA historical past.

“Everyone is aware of he’s an awesome participant, however he’s additionally an amazing human being. That’s the unhappy half about seeing him hanging up his sneakers.”

And the Miami Warmth have been anxious to seek out its subsequent star. “[Everyone in the Heat organization] ended up watching … all of his event video games to organize for the draft,” says Warmth head coach Erik Spoelstra, sitting on the scorers desk after shootaround final month. Miami was set to play Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks that night time. In 2003, Spoelstra was a Warmth teaching assistant. “They have been tremendous well-coached,” Spoelstra says. “And Dwyane made you watch that staff.”

Marquette alumni Dwyane Wade (middle) is honored with Dwyane Wade Day throughout halftime as Marquette takes on Windfall for an NCAA school basketball recreation Jan. 20 in Milwaukee.

AP Photograph/Darren Hauck

Stroll into the Al McGuire Middle on Marquette’s campus and the primary face you see is Wade’s. A big portrait commemorating the varsity’s Remaining 4 run, with Wade as its centerpiece, sits beside Marquette legends similar to Bo Ellis, Jim Boykin, Maurice Lucas and Dean Meminger. The three,700-seat area is quiet in late March, as each the lads’s and ladies’s groups are on the NCAA event. Wade’s presence, although, is in all places.

There’s “M Membership” Corridor of Fame induction in 2009. His place on the Stroll of Champions. A big banner pays him homage within the precise health club. Wade programs via the veins of Marquette. Some college students stroll throughout campus in his school jersey. There’s pleasure within the air. Wade and the Warmth are coming to city — it’s his final time enjoying within the metropolis that also claims him as its personal.

Dwyane Wade indicators autographs after his last recreation at TD Backyard April 2 in Boston. The Celtics defeated the Warmth, 110-105.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Photographs

There’s an upbeat vibe at Fiserv Discussion board the morning of March 22. The Warmth are holding a shootaround as The 4 Tops’ “I Can’t Assist Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and “It’s the Similar Previous Music” bleed into Stevie Marvel’s “Superstition.” Perhaps it’s a Pat Riley name. He’s a toddler of Motown, in any case.

Some gamers are getting up photographs. However Wade’s knees are already iced as he sits courtside behind the basket. Virtually instantly above him hangs his No. Three Marquette jersey. He’s having enjoyable speaking to the media, and he smiles when the Ja Morant comparisons come up. A day earlier, Morant dropped a triple-double (as Wade did in ’03, and as solely eight others have accomplished within the NCAA event) in Murray State’s first-round win over, poetically, Marquette. “He’s particular for actual,” Wade stated. “[He] undoubtedly gave me flashbacks.”

“He is likely one of the biggest guards that has ever performed this recreation.” — New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale

Wade’s eyes glisten once I point out the identify Gaulien “Gee” Smith. He’s proprietor of Gee’s Clippers Barber and Magnificence Salon on Milwaukee’s Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, the place Wade obtained his hair minimize whereas in school. Gee, who has reduce the hair of greater than 200 NBA gamers, together with Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, recollects Wade as a soft-spoken, respectful man whom he held out as particular. “I informed him [at Skybox Sports Bar across the street],” Gee says, “ ‘Man, I knew you’d be nice. However I’ma be trustworthy with you, I had no concept you’d be who you’re immediately.’ ” Wade beams on the reminiscence.

Udonis Haslem, who entered the NBA in 2003 with Wade, returns to the courtroom and appears over at Wade, whom he considers greater than a brother. “That is … the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” says Haslem. “I’m dwelling by way of him and his happiness. I’m having fun with all this as a pal. Actual associates take pleasure in seeing their associates comfortable.”

Dwyane Wade acknowledges the gang whereas being honored within the first quarter towards the Milwaukee Bucks on the Fiserv Discussion board on March 22 in Milwaukee.

Dylan Buell/Getty Pictures

Warmth followers have piled into the Bucks’ house area to observe the Japanese Convention’s prime squad play the Warmth. The previous 20 years of Wade’s basketball life are on individuals’s chests and backs: Marquette jerseys, Olympic jerseys, Chicago Bulls jerseys, even a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. However overwhelmingly it’s about that Warmth No. Three jersey in all of its hues.

Followers Felix and Linda have made the 80-mile trek from the capital metropolis of Madison, Wisconsin, to Milwaukee for the second. “That is his house! Despite the fact that he’s in Miami for now,” Linda says, not even making an attempt to cover her sarcasm. “He’ll all the time be welcome right here.”

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“It means so much to see him in his final recreation right here,” says Felix. “The issues he does locally off the courtroom outweighs what he does on the courtroom. Everyone is aware of he’s an excellent participant, however he’s additionally a fantastic human being. That’s the unhappy half about seeing him hanging up his sneakers.”

It’s a standard sentiment at Fiserv all night time. Halfway via the primary quarter, throughout a timeout, highlights of Wade’s March Insanity run splash throughout the JumboTron and elicit a standing ovation. “This,” a person yells from the stands, “made me a basketball fan.”

When Wade checks in with four:41 left within the first, a good louder ovation erupts. Wade’s 12 factors, although, do little to stop the inevitable: The Warmth — in a royal rumble with Orlando, Brooklyn and Detroit for 3 of the East’s last three seeds — lose 116-87. However the second was greater than the sport. Each Milwaukee All-Stars, Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, swapped jerseys with Wade after the sport. His who’s who of jersey swappers this yr consists of LeBron James, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki and others.

“He’s undoubtedly a mentor, any person I watch from afar,” Middleton stated after the sport. “[He’s] one in every of my favourite gamers rising up. Nonetheless certainly one of my favourite gamers to this present day.”

“Dwyane made you watch that group.” — Warmth head coach Erik Spoelstra

Within the locker room, Wade sits on a chair together with his shirt off and a gold chain round his neck with a throng of reporters round him. “I’ve no regrets,” he says of his farewell tour. Those that got here out to see him don’t have regrets both. Delight is combined with sorrow. Honor is in mattress with unhappiness.

“I simply know,” Linda says, “I’ma miss him.”

Crean, Wade’s coach at Marquette, has a principle about why the star’s connection to the world runs so deep. It’s not concerning the highlights, or the notoriety each males delivered to Marquette within the early 2000s. It’s not even about what they did within the spring of 2003. It’s concerning the soul of a person.

“He by no means, ever stopped caring about Marquette or Milwaukee even after [we] left,” Crean says. “It by no means stopped being his residence. It by no means stopped being his faculty. … He’s extremely loyal to his buddies, his household, his group. … He will get it.”

PART TWO: DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

Dwyane Wade shoots the profitable basket over Trevor Ariza of the New York Knicks on March 15, 2005, at Madison Sq. Backyard. The Warmth defeated the Knicks, 98-96.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Pictures

NEW YORK — It didn’t take lengthy for Wade to have his first Madison Sq. Backyard second. Or, in different phrases, rip the hearts out of New York Knicks followers. The date was March 15, 2005, and with lower than a minute remaining within the fourth quarter, Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the 49-16 Warmth have been tied at 96 with the 26-35 Knicks.

Dwyane Wade went full Dwyane Wade one final time.

Double-teamed by Stephon Marbury and Kurt Thomas, Wade (then generally known as “Flash” in his second NBA season) turned the ball over, giving the Knicks an opportunity at pulling off the upset. Thomas missed a baseline jumper, permitting Wade to tug down his third and ultimate rebound of the sport — thus setting him up for the ultimate shot. Moments later, Wade referred to as for iso far past the highest of the important thing. A tough drive left. A vicious step-back jumper. Nothing however the backside of the web. Warmth win 98-96.

“That boy is the reality!” yelled former Knicks guard Greg Anthony after the sport. Truthful evaluation. And, in mild of Paul Pierce claiming his superiority over Wade as a participant, a humorous one too.

The Warmth’s shootaround takes place at NYC’s Basketball Metropolis. It sits on the East River with a transparent view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the Statue of Liberty. Some gamers are getting photographs up. Others have aspect conversations with coaches. The power is calm and alluring as media varieties encompass Wade. He’s sporting a black Warmth sweatsuit — and what look like Uggs.

Wade programs via the veins of Marquette. Some college students stroll throughout campus in his school jersey.

“Apart from enjoying at residence, [Madison Square Garden] is my favourite place to play,” Wade says. “It’s lots of nice arenas within the NBA, however there’s one thing about MSG that’s … particular. … Warmth Nation is robust right here, so we all the time have a house crowd kinda really feel. It’s the lights. It’s the best way the ground is lit. It’s every part.”

Wade is balancing reflection and being within the second. The night time is essentially about him — he’s the third-leading lively non-Knick scorer at MSG, behind LeBron James and Vince Carter. But, for Wade, the night time is extra concerning the playoff push. The Warmth on the time have been nonetheless clawing for his or her postseason lives — and, at press time, nonetheless are. Wade is as mild-mannered as they arrive within the NBA, nevertheless it’s clear that questions on Knicks coach and shut pal Dave Fizdale’s capability to steer his staff out of a perpetual state of rebuilding begins to harass him. Wade’s skilled profession started within the Backyard on the 2003 NBA draft, however in March 2019 at MSG, he had not retired but.

Very similar to in Milwaukee, and at different stops this season, droves of followers arrive in Wade-associated paraphernalia. One such Warmth fan, sporting the assertion pink Wade jersey, walks round a concourse in full Braveheart mode, high-fiving and hugging some other Warmth fan he sees. “Let’s go Warmth!” he belts out. “Let’s go Wade!”

Different followers couldn’t let Wade depart New York with out saying goodbye.

“I’ve solely seen him as soon as,” says New Jersey native and die-hard Wade fan Ahmed Doumani. “I can’t have him retire with out seeing him once more.”

Celebrities additionally pile up at MSG for Wade. Tennis nice John McEnroe, actor John Turturro, New York Jets Professional Bowl security Jamal Adams and Kansas Metropolis Chiefs MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes are all in attendance. Crucial courtside seat although, because it pertains to Wade, is that of his spouse, Gabrielle Union.

Wade walks to the scorers desk to verify in. The groundswell of power, anticipation and gratitude at MSG is gargantuan.

“It’s so good to see him recognize [this final season],” Union stated throughout an in-game interview. “They are saying give individuals their flowers whereas they will nonetheless respect it, and the NBA has simply finished an incredible job [of that].”

Halfway by means of the primary, Wade walks to the scorers desk to verify in. The groundswell of power, anticipation and gratitude is gargantuan. Hairs rise on the again of necks. Goose bumps don’t have anything to do with the air con. Fizdale, who spent eight seasons as an assistant and affiliate head coach in Miami, paid homage to his former participant from the Jumbotron and had extra to say after the sport.

“I’ve discovered extra from him than he has from me, for positive,” Fizdale stated. “When he says he’s your good friend, he’s going to be there for you. He’s been there for me each step of the best way. He is likely one of the biggest guards that has ever performed this recreation.”

Each time Wade touched the ball at MSG, the gang cheered. He acquired “MVP” chants when he went to the free throw line — maybe the lone accomplishment not on his profession portfolio. The Knicks offense stalled within the second, permitting Miami to push forward for good. This allowed Knicks followers to concentrate on what’s actually essential.

Dwyane Wade touches middle courtroom of Madison Sq. Backyard one ultimate time after the sport towards the New York Knicks on March 30.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Photographs

“Thanks, D-Wade, for whooping our a– another time!” one fan behind press row yelled. “We’re one step nearer to Zion [Williamson]!”

Wade completed with 16 factors and 7 assists in a 100-92 victory — though the gang would’ve a lot slightly most popular for it to be 18 factors. A referred to as offensive foul on Wade in a missed alley-oop drew the most important boos of the night time — from Warmth and Knicks followers. After the sport, a whole lot of followers caught round to absorb Wade’s ultimate moments within the Backyard. New York has by no means had a problem with telling opponents off. It’s an unforgiving fan base. But when the town respects you, they’ll love you perpetually.

“Gotta pay respect,” a Knicks fan says, patting his younger son on the top, “to one of many GOATs.”

“This,” a person yells from the stands, “made me a basketball fan.”

Chants of “Another yr!” experience shotgun with “D-Wade!” And as a shoeless Wade lastly runs off the courtroom, he’s showered with one final ovation. Contained in the locker room, Wade, in a pink “Play Make Her” hoodie (a fund launched by the Leisure Business Basis to empower ladies within the sports activities business) is wanting ahead to summing up the night time.

“I’ll be right here, I’m positive, a couple of different occasions in my life. However as a participant … it’s your final time, you simply take pleasure in it,” he says. “The followers staying round after was so cool. You anticipate that at house, however on the street you don’t anticipate it.”

Because the locker room clears, Wade is smiling. It’s virtually over. He faucets me on my shoulder. He’s seen me at many of those stops. “See you within the subsequent metropolis, bro.” He takes footage with two youngsters — one in a Warmth jersey and one other in a Knicks jersey. Then he’s off into the New York night time, hand in hand with Union, as lots of of followers wait close to the group bus hoping for one final glimpse of a legend.

PART THREE: VICTORY LAP

MIAMI — “Feed him the rock,” the person says, a smile overtaking the actual property of his face. Decked out in a white Wade jersey and Miami Warmth hat, he takes a few pulls from his cigarette and carries on with one other man doing the identical. “He can beat Kobe’s 60. Why not? It’s his final residence recreation. It’s what everyone’s right here for, proper?”

Miami knew this present day would come. Spoelstra made a vow to Wade (and to himself) at Wade’s residence final summer time when he discovered this is able to be the celebrity’s remaining run. “I simply needed to take pleasure in all these moments and be current. Not take into consideration when it’s over, or subsequent yr,” the Warmth head coach stated. “I needed to [do] all the things we might to ensure it was as he imagined.”

Dwyane Wade seems on through the enjoying of the nationwide anthem earlier than the sport between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Warmth at American Airways Area on April 9 in Miami.

Michael Reaves/Getty Pictures

Wade’s last house recreation was the subject across the metropolis all day Tuesday. Miami is fiercely protecting of Wade, and for a sure era of South Florida sports activities followers, Wade isn’t just one of many greats. He’s the best.

“For actually anybody 40 and underneath, he’s the image of sports activities excellence in Miami,” says columnist and 5ReasonsSports.com podcast host Alphonse Sidney. “We’re too younger for the 1972 Dolphins. We have been in elementary faculty or not alive even when [Dan] Marino was elite. We’ve seen two Marlins championships, however we by no means actually had an opportunity to fawn over these groups as a result of as quickly as we gained the championship, they have been gone.” He pauses momentarily. “Relating to elite athleticism, elite gamers, superstars who’re a logo of a group and a group, it’s Dwyane Wade and actually nobody else.”

“Dwyane Wade represents us Miamians in a approach no different South Florida sports activities determine has,” says Maria Cabré, head of operations at J Wakefield Brewing. “He [just] will get it: a stability of humility and ego and ahead considering, but rooted in custom. [Miami] will all the time be his house.”

Inside American Airways Area is a celebration match for a king. “L3GACY” shirts are positioned on each seat within the area — which is crammed lengthy earlier than tipoff. Wade highlights run in an unapologetic loop on any and each display. Your complete area chants for some 10 minutes earlier than tipoff.

We would like Wade!

We would like Wade!

We would like Wade!

There are clips and voiceovers from Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Gabrielle Union. A deafening roar erupts when Pat Riley declares, “This can be Wade County eternally!”

Wade’s sporting a black Warmth sweatsuit — and what look like Uggs.

On an evening outlined by feelings and immortalized by magnificence, Wade’s oldest son, Zaire, launched his father in a second greatest described as surreal. “That one virtually obtained me,” Wade quipped in a hallway after the sport.

Following roughly 20 minutes of pregame Wade-themed nostalgia, and a speech from the person of the hour, an precise basketball recreation passed off, though it was extra like a glorified scrimmage with the Philadelphia 76ers seemingly content material with having one of the best seat in the home for Wade’s remaining Florida farewell. Spoelstra stated after the sport that the choice to start out Wade was a “no-brainer.”

And, fittingly, with Chris and Adrienne Bosh, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Tim Hardaway and others courtside and close by, the primary bucket of the sport was a dunk from No. Three. Every little thing Wade did Tuesday night time — scoring, assists, rebounds, waves to the gang — elicited thundering ovations. Everybody was absorbing the second, even these in press row.

Throughout timeouts, the video tributes continued. Derek Jeter’s was booed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver saluted Wade, telling him Springfield, Massachusetts, was his subsequent cease. As did his mom (Jolinda), father (Dwyane Sr.), sister (Tragil) and nephew (Dahveon). “You’ve given me the most important present you possibly can ever give any of your followers,” Union says in hers. “Your coronary heart.” Zaire returned on-screen to thank his father for giving him a blueprint for how you can stay life each on and away from the courtroom. His youngest son, Zion, who participated within the Miami Seashore Satisfaction march on Sunday, had however one request for his dad. “Don’t lose your final house!” The most important ovation was reserved for former President Barack Obama. By way of video he saluted Wade for a profession well-played.

“Now I do know what you’re going via, as a result of saying goodbye to a profession that you simply love isn’t straightforward. I’ve been there,” Obama stated. “In my case, although, I didn’t actually have a selection. My knees have been shot, so I had to surrender basketball eternally.”

“He can beat Kobe’s 60. Why not? It’s his final residence recreation. It’s what everyone’s right here for, proper?”

Information about Magic Johnson stepping away from the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t derail what was immediately one of the crucial particular nights in South Florida historical past, and the Detroit Pistons’ comeback victory over Memphis, formally eliminating the Warmth from the playoffs, didn’t dampen a parade 16 seasons within the making. A very particular sequence within the fourth quarter quickly ignites. The sport was already determined. The gang had already erupted into one other “We would like Wade!” chant. Then Wade and fellow Miami favourite Haslem checked into the sport collectively.

Dwyane Wade went full Dwyane Wade one final time. A turnaround fadeaway from 9 ft. Then a Three-pointer that turned the world on its collective head in euphoria. Then one other Three-pointer. Then a 23-foot step-back jumper that prompted his spouse to slap him on the butt as he ran by. After which, three minutes later, one other Three.

All in all, Wade closed out his profession with 30 factors, together with 14 within the ultimate body. And the 20,153 followers in attendance managed to squeeze in a “Paul Pierce sucks” chant for good measure.

The Miami Warmth, led by Dwyane Wade, huddle up earlier than the sport towards the Philadelphia 76ers on April 9 at American Airways Area in Miami.

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Pictures

Because the clock ran to triple zeros, the second had lastly set in. An period was over. Wade saved his most private jersey exchanges for final. He swapped jerseys together with his whole group. Then Zaire. Probably the most private swap was with a No. 11 Warmth jersey with “Hank” on the again. This was an homage to Henry Thomas, D-Wade’s late agent, who turned excess of simply that over the course of his profession. Wade credited Thomas, who died from neuromuscular illness in 2018, for molding him into the person he turned after leaving Marquette.


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“Wade County,” Wade stated to the a whole lot of followers who stayed lengthy after the ultimate whistle blew, “I really like you.”

After the ultimate information convention of his profession in Miami, Wade, in a purple go well with and sneakers, holding his daughter, left the constructing — no shirt beneath the blazer. Family and friends members comply with him as he exhibits his daughter footage of himself on the wall. Union quickly joins them. That is how Wade needed it to finish. On his personal phrases celebrating with these he loves most.

It seems like simply yesterday that he, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have been masking Sports activities Illustrated with the tagline “The New Period.” And now, Dwyane Wade is not within the NBA. Wade valued his profession. And he walked out of American Airways Area at near midnight one ultimate time figuring out that a whole fan base, a whole metropolis and a whole era did as nicely.

Justin Tinsley is a tradition and sports activities author for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Money Cash Data takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful assertion of his era.

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