Dwyane Wade recently said his final days with the Miami Heat felt a lot like a “bad marriage.”
But on Tuesday less than an hour before he suited up to face Miami for the first time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade said the Heat “got the best out of him” and he felt satisfied with his accomplishments there.
“It’s an amazing chapter in my life and a big part of what I’ve become and who I am,” Wade said. “I don’t look back at nothing but the good times. I don’t look back at the bad ones.
“It’s different,” Wade said. “Obviously you don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day. For me, I’m OK and I’m content with what I’ve done for 13 years. Did I think it was gonna shake out this way? No. But I’m not sitting here crying about it neither. I understand that’s how things go. The decisions I made and I made the decisions so it’s fine. I look back on my 13 years and said, ‘Man, we did some special, special things.’ ”
After one season back in his hometown playing for the Chicago Bulls, Wade’s role is now one of reserve guard with the Cavaliers, with whom he signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal and rejoined former Heat teammate LeBron James.
After 13 years with the Heat during which he became one of Miami’s most iconic athletes of all time and led the franchise to all three of its NBA championships, Wade said adjusting to a new team twice in the past two years hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been a little difficult at times, probably just learning the systems, coming in and each team I’ve been to has a totally different system,” Wade said. “Different roles from obviously Miami, being a number-one option on a lot of nights, number two when Chris [Bosh] was playing sometimes. In Chicago, varying [roles]. And here, I’m coming off the bench so a lot of different things, but many different challenges in the last few years. But, overall, it’s just a part of the body of work of my career, so it’s been good.”
Although he and James aren’t together on the court as often as they were when they both started in Miami, Wade said the chemistry between them is still there.
“This has always been, before we played together, when we just played together a little bit in All-Star Games or Olympics, etcetera,” Wade said. “It’s just there. So I definitely enjoy that. It’s not the same as Miami. We’re not on the court together as much. But it’s fun. It’s one thing is having a guy that you know is going to push you past your limits, a guy that you know is a winner, you know what he’s going to do in certain moments and vice versa really helps the teams.”
Wade is averaging 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 23.3 minutes per game in 19 games this season and has made only three starts.
At 36 years old, Wade is looking at his career on a year-to-year basis as opposed to setting long-term goals.
“Yeah, that’s the way I approach it even if I’m on a contract for two years, that’s how I approached it,” Wade said. “As me and Udonis [Haslem] both talked about for many years and I think we got it from Ray Allen about knowing that time is going to come for you. Don’t have a perceived notion that I’m retiring at this age, I’m retiring at this year. Play the game year after year, see how you feel and see what you want to do the following year.”
Soon after Wade’s “bad marriage” comment, former teammate Ray Allen told Sports Illustrated earlier this month that he felt the Heat had scheduled too many shootarounds and practices during that 2014 NBA Finals season and that it took a toll on the team’s veteran players.
Wade said Miami’s style of doing things was just different than perhaps what Allen was used to in his previous years with the Celtics.
“Miami is Miami,” Wade said. “They do it the way Miami does it. Obviously Ray came from Boston and Doc [Rivers] did things a little differently for him and KG [Kevin Garnett] and those guys. Miami is done the way that it’s done. At the end of the day no matter what happened those years we went to four Finals in a row and we won two championships, one with Ray. That’s just a part of coaching in Miami.”
Wade didn’t think the Heat “wore him out” during his time in Miami.
“I feel like they got the best out of me. You play this game to get the best out of yourself. That’s what I felt. My 13 years in Miami I leave satisfied what I accomplished, what my team accomplished, what my teammates accomplished. So, if you worked hard to do that, if you worked too hard to do that I’m fine with it because we had to deal with success. And that’s the only thing we got to talk about when we get done playing this game. We got to talk about playoff series we was in, the championships we was in, the locker rooms and all these things. Get it all out of you because one day I ain’t ever going to play basketball ever again.”