Dwyane Wade is back. Here’s what he had to say about his return from paternity leave
It’s impossible right now not think the new dad with the Miami Heat looks like a new dad.
“You see my eyes?” Dwyane Wade asked reporters as he stepped outside the Heat locker room following shootaround Tuesday in Miami.
It was clear he has not had much sleep the past few nights following the birth of his daughter Nov. 8. The guard missed seven consecutive games for paternity leave to care for his newborn, but Tuesday he finally returned to AmericanAirlines Arena. Wade will suit up for the Heat for its home game Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
His arrival at AmericanAirlines on Tuesday caught some of his teammates off guard. From the moment Wade walked into the locker room, he could tell Miami (6-10) was a team struggling. Energy can wane during losing streaks, and Wade could tell it had happened to his teammates while he was gone. When the 12-time All-Star finally walked through the doors, there was audible and visual excitement.
“It was great. I kind of felt a little sigh when he walked through. I was like, ‘Yes!’ It’s great to have him back and hopefully he’ll give us a boost tonight,” wing Josh Richardson said after shootaround Tuesday. “So much of this league is mood of the team and confidence, so with him back we’re definitely a lot more confident moving forward.”
It carried over to the shootaround. The Heat now hopes it will carry over against the Nets (7-10) at 7:30 p.m.
“There’s a human element to this business and to the game, and it is the most important thing,” coach Erik Spoelstra said in his news conference following shootaround Tuesday. “The connection, your spirit, your emotions, everybody getting on the same page and just seeing Dwyane back here with the guys, there was a tangible boost in energy today in the shootaround.”
Wade left the team in the midst of one of his best stretches in years. In nine games this season, Wade is averaging 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists, while shooting 45 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range. The scoring output is on pace to be his best since 2016-17, his field-goal percentage would be his best since 2015-16 and his three-point percentage would set a career mark by 10 percentage points.
The Heat needs Wade to quickly recapture his early-season form. Miami went 2-5 without Wade and has now lost five of its last six games. The Heat blew multiple fourth-quarter leads without the future Hall-of-Famer and lost four games by 10 points or fewer.
“Hopefully not too long,” Wade said when asked how long he expects it will take to get back to 100 percent. “I was so excited for my daughter to come, but I was like, ‘Baby, you know your dad was playing in a rhythm. You could’ve waited a little while.”
In the meantime, Wade tried to stay fresh while in Los Angeles. Wade said he was back on the court Nov. 12 and worked six days in a row to get prepared for a return. A little more than a week after getting back to working out, Wade will make his return.
“I was able to do some training both on and off the court. Obviously, it’s not basketball like this, but you know me. I can’t just sit for two weeks, so after taking a couple of days off straight to make sure my daughter’s fine, I got back to work on that Monday following when my daughter was born and I worked for six days straight just to make sure that my body is remembering what it’s supposed to do.”
As excited as he is to rejoin his team, Wade admits it was hard to leave wife Gabrielle Union and daughter Kaavia James Union Wade. He said both are doing great, though, and he’s excited to get to see them again in the near future.
“They’re great. Both in heaven, so I’m going to obviously miss them,” Wade said. “It was tough leaving my little girl and my wife yesterday, but I got to get back to work and I’ll see them again soon.”