If the phrase “Bulls guard Dwyane Wade” sounds weird to you, it’s also taking some getting used to by Wade himself. In fact, the longtime Heat star said Thursday that he has taken to wearing some of his new team’s apparel every day, just to help make the adjustment.
Wade stunned the NBA world by leaving Miami, where he had spent the entirety of his 13-year NBA career, for Chicago in free agency. Although there had been reports of his dissatisfaction with Heat management and that his camp was telling other teams to make competitive offers, most observers ultimately expected him to return to the franchise he helped lead to all of its three titles.
“When I’m done playing, I will always go back to Miami and enjoy the fruits of my labor,” Wade told reporter Lee Jenkins, who was interviewing him at the Variety-Sports Illustrated Entertainment Summit in Los Angeles. “For me as an athlete and as someone who understands the business and has wants and needs, I felt this was the best decision for myself at this time. It takes nothing away from what I’ve done in those 13 years. But I’m also a guy who has a dream, as well. And one of my dreams was always to play for my hometown team. And the time right now came where it was perfect for me to do that.”
“No matter what everyone hears that’s out there about money and this and that, I’m not that guy,” said Wade, who turned down a reported two-year, $40 million offer from the Heat for about $7 million more from the Bulls. “It’s not really about that for me. It’s about doing something I want to do, what I feel comfortable doing, and I decided to pull the trigger. So it’s going to be different. But it’s going to be exciting and fun for me.”
Wade reminisced about being nine years old when the Bulls won their first title. “I remember I felt so alive, with this pride for the city of Chicago,” he said (via Variety). “I think Michael Jordan’s rise to icon status went a little different than it does today. He really broke down barriers in the NBA and became a superstar that I don’t think the NBA had. I think it just happened out of nowhere.”
The 12-time all-star also addressed his anti-violence remarks, made along with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul at the start of Wednesday’s ESPY awards show. “We’ve gotten a lot of flack over the years—myself, LeBron, Chris and Melo—for even being friends,” Wade told Jenkins. “… We have a special connection and a special bond. And we’ve always said these words: It’s bigger than basketball for our friendship and our relationship. And you don’t know what that means until a moment like yesterday comes about.
“Obviously, there’s been a lot of tragic incidents going on in the world that we all are affected by, everyone,” Wade continued. “Yes, everyone has a platform because of social media, but we have a huge platform, and we felt upon ourselves with our teams to come together to figure out a way that we could use the power of our voices, the power of our faces to get behind what we all believe in. And that’s what we were able to do.”
In what would turn out to be his final season for the Heat (barring a return), Wade averaged 19.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in a career-low 30.5 minutes per game. In Chicago, he’ll join another free agent acquisition, Rajon Rondo, in a back court that still features Jimmy Butler but lost Derrick Rose in a trade with the Knicks.