Heat guard Dwyane Wade is delivering the naked truth to ESPN Magazine and its readers, shedding his clothes for the publication’s annual body issue and offering introspection on his insecurities growing up, his health and other topics.
The Miami Heat player appears nude on the cover, but contorting himself in such a way that private parts are concealed.
In one photo, he has an arm extended, holding a basketball.
Wade, one of 19 athletes to appear in this year’s body issue, told the magazine that from 2012 through 2014, during the Big 3 era, “those years were so hard for me. I felt like my body was betraying me — out of nowhere, there was so much pain in my knee. Anytime I made a move, and I mean like a step or a walk, any move was painful.
“I remember just thinking at one point, “What have I done to deserve this?” This is something that’s very important to my sport, my career and my future. And it got to a point where I was thinking, “Man, do I want to continue to feel all this pain? During drills in practice one day, I thought, “Nobody in this gym knows how much pain I’m in right now.” It hurt to run, stop, plant, and it’s killing me. But I didn’t let people know.”
But after working with a new trainer and changing the focus of his training last offseason, Wade missed only seven games due to injury, down from 20 the previous season.
“I’d say I probably felt like I was 28 this season,” he said. “There were times when I did certain things and was like, “Man! That was like young me. In the playoffs against Charlotte, I went coast-to-coast and dunked on a guy. … I was like, “Oh, that’s what I’m talking about! You still got it when you need it!”
Wade said he has “always had an old-man game. But obviously when I was 21, 22, 23, I was just more athletic and faster. Now I have to use it more because it’s an older game. … I’m not going to try to use my burst all the time because I’m playing against younger, quicker, athletic guys. I’ll be playing into their hands if I do that.”
He said he “never envisioned that I would be playing this long. I think I always told myself that my body would tell me, “Hey, I gave you enough, it’s time.” So whenever my body tells me that, I’ll listen to it and then I’ll make that decision. But nah, I’m not there yet. I’ve got some good years left.”
In agreeing to appear nude, Wade said that growing up, “I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged. When I was young, my belly button was an outie, and I never even wanted to take my shirt off when we were at the swimming pool or outside during water fights. … I was just never comfortable until about four years ago, when I started feeling comfortable with my body overall.”