Dwyane Wade, a little more than a week shy of starting camp with his new team, the Chicago Bulls, continued his thank you tour Saturday, making it clear South Florida and former Miami Heat teammate Udonis Haslem will always have a special place in his heart.
“This community has been a part of me for 13 years and when it’s a part of you for that long it’s a part of you forever,” the 12-time All-Star guard said, not long after his first 6-mile CommUNITY Bike Ride through Coconut Grove concluded with a party at Regatta Park.
Saturday morning’s event, which was put on in conjunction with city of Miami and the Florida Department of Transportation, was created to promote cycling safety and positive relationships between the community and police. It also came on the heels of Wade paying for six billboards throughout the city to thank Miami for its support during his first 13 years in the league.
“There’s so much you want to say, you know,” Wade said of the billboards, five of which are on digital displays in Miami including near AmericanAirlines Arena. “What are the most simple words, but what means the most is just ‘Thank you.’ Just simply those words mean a lot. So, it was something that I was thinking about, coming back to Miami for the last time, before the season started.”
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Among the 1,000 riders in Saturday’s event was Haslem — the only former Heat teammate to participate.
Wade, 34, took the stage afterward and told participants “one of the hardest things about leaving this city was that I wasn’t going to be playing with UD [anymore].” Wade added he made a promise to Haslem they would finish their careers together and “as of now” he hadn’t held up his end of the bargain.
“I’m what you consider a man’s man, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there’s an emotional attachment between me and Dwyane,” Haslem told the Miami Herald shortly after he jumped on stage with Wade. “I’m going to damn sure try [to finish my career with him]. I mean, I don’t know, I guess I’ve got to wait until next summer to see how that goes. But, I never give up without a fight. So it ain’t time to start now.”
Does that mean Haslem is willing to leave Miami to play with Wade again? “I didn’t say that. I was thinking more him of him coming here,” Haslem said. “When I said play with him again, I never said leave. He’s trying to sell his house down here. I might just buy it and hold it for him.”
Wade, who attended Kanye West’s concert with Chris Bosh on Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, said he’s very much hoping to see Bosh on the court when the Bulls make their only visit to South Florida on Nov. 10. Earlier this week, Bosh, who has missed the second half of each of the last two seasons because of bouts with blood clots, said he expected to be with the Heat when the team opens camp Sept. 27 in the Bahamas.
“I pray he gets a chance to get back on a basketball court and just do what he loves to do,” Wade said of Bosh. “Do I worry about him? I have at times. I think right now all I’m focused on is that he’s making the strides and steps to get back on the court.”
One Heat person Wade still has yet to make a connection with since leaving is team president Pat Riley, who said at the end of July he was in the midst of “crafting a very long email” to Wade.
“That’s the funny thing about phones — spell-check sometimes messes up,” Wade said. “I haven’t received it yet. But I’m sure it’s coming.”
Wade, who won three championships with the Heat, said he still isn’t completely acclimated to changing his allegiance to the Bulls. “There’s going to be levels to this,” he said. “It’s not an overnight thing. I talked to Chicago and they understand that.”
Wade said he hasn’t thought about what it’s going to be like when he returns to Miami with the Bulls, but he’s sure the ovation fans give him “will be heartfelt.”
“I’m sure it will be cool,” Wade said. “Hopefully not too cool because I’ve got to focus on the basketball game, as well. Whatever it is, 15 seconds, a minute, whatever the case may be, just know I’m appreciative of it. I don’t walk around thinking anybody should do anything for me. I just try to be the person I am. Whatever comes with it, the good, the bad, the ugly, I accept it.”