It’s been more than eight months since Dwyane Wade announced he was leaving South Beach to head home to the Windy City, but it’s still hard to tell if his heart has ever left 601 Biscayne Blvd.
In an hour-long sit down interview for a podcast with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski over the weekend, the 12-time All-Star spent most of those 60 minutes talking about his former team the Miami Heat.
Some of the highlights:
▪ Wade, 35, said there are still times when he looks at the NBA schedule and confuses himself as to where he’s supposed to be playing.
“If I look at the schedule and I see the Heat playing someone, like if it says the Heat versus Denver, I’m like, ‘Dang, we go to Denver?’ ” Wade said. “I remember I just asked my son recently, I was trying to tell him to go into the room and grab my Bulls shorts. But what I said was, ‘Hey, go grab my Heat shorts.’ He was like, ‘What?’”
▪ Wade said he watched Tim Duncan’s jersey retirement ceremony earlier this year in San Antonio, but felt no remorse about his decision to leave Miami after 13 seasons. Duncan spent his entire 19-year career with the Spurs and Wade was hopeful he would be able to do the same with the Heat. Still, Wade said his decision to return home to Chicago will not tarnish his legacy in Miami.
Why? “I think because I was there when Alonzo [Mounring] came back and had his jersey retired,” Wade said of the Heat’s former Hall of Fame center who signed a free agent deal with the Nets before returning to the Heat.
“And the love and admiration for him and what he did was there. I didn’t worry about it. I know one day my jersey will be retired in Miami. I know one day I will have that ceremony, that moment. I think what I accomplished in those 13 years is just going to be there no matter what.
“I thought it was cool to be one of those guys that can play with one organization for their whole career. It’s very rare. Who doesn’t want to be rare? But it just didn’t work out that way for me. But to me, it doesn’t take anything away from my journey. Everyone has their own path, everyone has their own journey and everything happens for a reason.”
▪ Since he return home to Chicago in July, Wade hasn’t exactly had it easy. There’s been plenty of tension.
A couple weeks ago the Bulls resembled a dumpster fire when Wade and All-Star Jimmy Butler criticized their teammates and then Rajon Rondo fired back at them the next day.
Asked if he appreciates the Heat and president Pat Riley more being away from the organization, Wade responded: “Definitely.”
“I will be man enough to say I definitely have a little bit more appreciation for him,” Wade said of Riley. “I had a lot of appreciation and admiration for that guy. But definitely taking a step out of it and going on the other side... you really try to bring what you learned there to where you’re at. LeBron tried to bring it to Cleveland. And the thing in Chicago, you try to bring the [Heat] culture, the accountability. That’s what I wanted to bring and that’s what I learned there.
“What Pat and [owner] Micky [Arison] have been able to establish in Miami has been incredible and there’s some great things about it, and there’s some things that are not so great from the standpoint of how controlling it can be at times. But from a basketball standpoint, it’s phenomenal. Just sometimes, the personal side comes in and the being a man side comes in.
“I’m 35 and my mindset is different. You telling me certain things is not going to fly. I’m a professional. I know what to do and what not to do. I’ve always respected it at 9.9. Now I respect him at 9.999 for what they’ve built and he’s stayed pat and he’s stayed strict to his guns, and he’s been successful because of it. It’s a reason the Miami Heat organization and the last whatever years, especially when I was there, was successful.”
▪ Still, Wade felt he felt slighted by the Heat especially when it came to his contract. And it wasn’t only the two-year, $40 million offer the Heat tossed his way after it secured center Hassan Whiteside for $98 million. It was several years, Wade said, of feeling as if he had sacrificed and not been rewarded.
“Do I feel at times I did give back to be on a competitive team to win a championship? Yeah, we did that,” Wade said. “But do I feel also that the same way I’ve done certain things, I felt that they should have? [Yeah]. The year when LeBron left and they signed Chris [Bosh] to that max deal, I was happy for Chris. He’s one of my best friends. I’m like, ‘Yeah, OK. My turn.’”
When that didn’t happen Wade said he was hurt. “I’ve spoken this to Pat, that that really hurt me because at that moment that was the first moment where I felt like I was being taken for granted,” Wade said.
“So then I sign a shorter deal. And then the next year, Goran [Dragic] comes in and they max Goran out. Same thing, one year deal. Then this year, it came down to Hassan. My thing is all these players, they deserved the money they got. My griff is never with any of them. I love all those guys.
“But I’m sitting over here, waving my hands and I’m like ‘Hey, guys.’ I understand everybody is talking about the future. My future is running out and I’m still a good player in this league. I’m not asking for something I don’t think I deserve from the standpoint of what I can do on a basketball floor. So did my feelings get hurt some? Yeah. But at the end of the day, you got to make the best decision for you.”
▪ Wade said Riley’s decision not to come talk to him was ultimately the last straw before he decided to leave the Heat last summer. It’s a decision Riley has said on multiple occassions he regrets.
“The fact that we didn’t talk, that hurt – and that was my deciding factor,” Wade said. “When it came down to the end of the day, he didn’t show that he wanted me there. It wasn’t about the Arison family, I know they love me and I know they wanted me there. I know Spo wanted me there. I know Udonis and those guys. But at the end of the day, I didn’t hear from the guy I needed to. I expressed this to him later. That right there hurt me. It showed me that at this time, it was time for me to remove myself from the situation.
“I was waiting for him to step up and meet me somewhere, call me, do something, and it just never happened. That’s not Pat. That’s not the Pat I know.”
▪ As strained as his relationship with Riley got towards the end of his Heat tenure, Wade said he was as close as ever to coach Erik Spoelstra.
Wade said he and Spoelstra text message each other regularly.
“There's times he sends me pictures of him and the staff,” Wade said. “They’re my guys. That’s always going to be there. None of that stuff can be erased because you change your zip code, your area code. Not for me. He's somebody that's been in my corner and I've been in his corner. We're linked together forever.”
Wade praised Spoelstra for the job he’s done with this year’s team after an 11-30 start and said the team’s recent 13-game winning streak is “just as impressive” as the Big Three’s 27-game win streak back in 2013.
He said he’s not sure fans really appreciate how good of a coach Spoelstra is.
“[But] I think now they will because he doesn't have the star name players on the team,” Wade said. “What they’re accomplishing now is remarkable.
“The standards don't change no matter who comes in and out,” Wade continued. “One thing that I really appreciated about Coach Spo when we had the Big Three, I thought the best thing he did with us was he always kept us in the moment – even when we were on our 27-game win streak or when we lost five in a row. He always kept us on the next thing, the next day, ‘Hey this is what we've got to do.’ He never let us feel ourselves.
“I know he did it with us and I know he's doing it with them. It’s about what’s next. He always said – and this is one quote I take from him – ‘You’re never as good as you think you are and you're never as bad as they say you are.’ And this team has proved it. The Miami Heat now has proved that.
“I think what he’s been able to accomplish in his short career so far as a head coach has just been remarkable and I don’t think a lot of people give him the credit he deserves. But at the end of the day, he doesn't look for that. That’s not why he does this. He’s one of the great coaches in this game and it all started from him being so stubborn to who he is and what they wanted to do.”