Having been a sportscaster for many years, I’ve come across my share of athletes, coaches, front office types, owners and everything on down to the people who sweep the ice and mop the floors who personify grace and dignity. I have also, sadly, been far too often exposed to the chuckleheaded arrogant egos that would just as soon spit in the eye of a fan than consider them even once as important to success. I’m often asked to list those types for further discussion, however I choose to rarely go down that road and not to get into a spitting contest.

Which brings me to this edition of “Always Be Closing” and the now retired Dwyane Wade.

If you’re a fan of the Miami Heat, you already know his reputation on and off the court. He has been rightfully crowned the best professional athlete to ever grace a South Florida professional franchise, again both for what he has done on and off the playing surface. Winning championships will make it easy for someone to be lauded in their town. After all, sports is about bringing home the prized bacon, keeping the fans interested and also selling tickets. It’s what one does when not in uniform that sets them apart.

Wade has played his final game, making that good call about hanging up the uniform before it becomes to late. In his final appearance before the home crowd, it was easy to feel the appreciation and the love between one man and a fan base.

In his first interview after retiring, Wade once again showed that humble side of a great athlete that endeared him to fans.

All of this is what you would hope to see from someone with a great level of fame on their way out the locker room door. It’s what Wade did a few days later, back home in Miami in the Heat locker room, that truly set him apart and made him the focus of a perfect “Always Be Closing” moment.

The line often used is, “Look up class in the dictionary, and you’ll see a picture of (insert name of someone deserving here)”.

You’ll find a picture of Dwyane Wade.

Here’s where it speaks to you, whether or not you’ve ever picked up a basketball or played a single sport.

“Always Be Closing” demands that we take time to thank and respect those who helped get us where we are. No matter how high we climb, there are those on lower rungs of the ladder without whom we would never have reached the heights. Everything we do is part of a team. There is no such thing as a singular effort.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to say “thank you”, to show gratitude, to not forget those who busted their asses in order for us to succeed.

You MUST learn to “Always Be Closing” on the idea of never forgetting those who, whether named or just by being there, are part of your team. In the grand scheme of things, it takes ZERO time to shake a hand, give a hug, sign a sheet of paper, take a picture, something that will out a smile on the face of another. Most of these people will never achieve the level of fame Wade has reached. In your career, many people will never attain the level of numbers in a paycheck you will reach.

You are there because of them. You are there because they supported you, whether knowingly or simply as part of their job.

You are there because of a team.

Be humble. Be aware of those around you. Be the person others will remember with an unmatched level of grace and style.

Take the shot, because every one you make is a score for those that understand teamwork.

In turn, they will pass it on to others down the line. Your largess and humanity makes everyone better.

Suit up, and “Always Be Closing” on your image and your level of leadership.