But Wade made another case to steal some votes Sunday with his performance against the Knicks in 122-105 victory. Wade had a career-high 55 points, which finished one shy of the franchise record, and caused some playful controversy between coach Erik Spoelstra and his All-Star guard.
Wade had 50 points at the end of the third quarter and scored for the final time with 5:31 remaining in the game. He only needed one more point to match Glen Rice's record of 56 set April 15, 1995 against Orlando, but Wade started passing to open teammates at the end of the game.
Instead of going for the record, Wade left to a standing ovation with 1:06 remaining in the game since the score was out of reach. Spoelstra said he had no idea Wade was close to the record until an assistant coach told him after Wade was on the bench.
Spoelstra's excuse was he didn't want to risk Wade getting hurt with the playoffs less than a week away. The Heat clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia losing at Toronto on Sunday and will face No. 4 seed Atlanta in the first round.
Wade has been dealing with an injured ankle, and Spoelstra wants to make sure his best player is 100 percent when it matters most. Still, the rookie coach was aware what he had done.
"I told Dwyane he better not 'MF' me," Spoelstra said. "This is about the bigger picture right now.
"He's broken every other record for the franchise. Let's leave one for Glen Rice."
Wade, even though he likely wanted the record and will have plenty of chances to get the mark in the future, agreed with his coach. He said he "didn't care for" the record because he was focused on clinching the No. 5 seed with two games to play.
Wade did say he could tell a big game was coming. He felt good shooting the ball before the game and hit 23 three-pointers warming up.
Then he took it out on one of his Olympic coaches in Mike D'Antoni, who was an assistant with Team USA during the summer. Wade hit a career-high six three-pointers and also added nine rebounds and four assists. He was 19-of-30 from the field and 11-of-13 from the foul line.
D'Antoni and Wade shared a moment near the end of the game after Wade had scored all of his 55 points.
"I said this is nothing personal," Wade said.
"It was me just complimenting him," D'Antoni said. "I told him, 'It's sort of ridiculous that you're this good.'"
At one point after the exchange, D'Antoni said something to Wade that made him laugh. After the game, Wade wouldn't divulge the final words.
"It was something about LeBron," Wade said. "He told me not to say."
Maybe it was that Wade was the best player in Beijing, which is what D'Antoni said prior to the game. Maybe it was that Wade -- and not James -- would look better in a Knicks uniform after the 2010 season when both are going to be free agents and sought after by New York.
Or maybe it was that D'Antoni thinks Wade should win the MVP over James. Wade did have the higher point total against the Knicks this year, with James going for 52 in February. (Kobe Bryant has the NBA season high with 61, also against the Knicks).
"It was unbelievable," D'Antoni said of Wade. "He was hitting shots that once he starts, you can't stop him. He did a great job."
Wade wasn't the only Heat player with a career performance. Rookie forward Michael Beasley tied his career high with 28 points and set a new career high with 16 rebounds.
Beasley is starting with Udonis Haslem (hand) out and finally playing with confidence. It's coming at the right time for the Heat with the playoffs starting.
"I was just out there playing," Beasley said. "Coach is playing me more minutes. He is trusting me a little bit. The team is putting their trust in me a little bit. I'm just playing my game and trying to do what the team needs. It's easier to play when you have confidence and you know the team is trusting you and the coach is trusting you."
Even with Beasley's performance, the story Sunday was Wade. He's been the story all year for the Heat.
This was his third 50-point game this season, and he continues to show how good he is when he's healthy. Rookie guard Mario Chalmers said Wade "makes you say wow a lot."
Now, a year after missing the postseason, we get to see what Wade can do in the playoffs again. He's not going to win the MVP award, but he's definitely had a magical regular season.
He likely added one final memory -- and one last push for some MVP votes -- with his game against the Knicks. If only he got two more points, he would have added another record.