In 2006, nothing less than a complete game was required, as he led the Miami Heat to what remains the franchise's lone NBA championship.

In last season's NBA Finals, he worked somewhat as a set-up man, trying to ease LeBron James through an ill-fated championship round against the Dallas Mavericks.

This year, Dwyane Wade arrives back at the NBA Finals as Mariano Rivera. The Heat's closer.

It isn't necessarily a role that has been designed by coach Erik Spoelstra, or one that Wade has sought. It just sort of evolved as the byproduct of rough starts through this postseason run to this championship series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.