Dwyane Wade made his scheduled appearance on the syndicated morning TV show Live with Kelly on Thursday morning and made sure to thank Miami Heat fans once again for their support during his 13 years with the franchise.
Late Wednesday night, the 12-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer agreed to a two-year, $47 million deal to return home and play for the Chicago Bulls, ending a magical run with the Heat, which included three NBA titles and five trips to the Finals.
“I feel like I’m in The Garden,” Wade, 34, said after he received a standing ovation from the crowd. “It is powerful in here.”
Host Kelly Ripa immediately asked Wade about his decision to head to Chicago.
“Last night was a long, long night for me,” Wade responded. “Can you tell by my eyes?”
“I was so excited to get here. I was more nervous about this than I was about everything that happened last night,” Wade continued. “It’s still surreal. I’m still numb. This decision I had to make last night, I mean, I’ve been in Miami for 13 years — 13 incredible years. You get a week to decide, you know, what you’re going to do. And I didn’t get [any] sleep. I lost probably five to 10 pounds just not being able to eat.”
Wade’s relationship with the Heat came to an acrimonious end. The Heat offered Wade a two-year, $40 million contract on Monday, but that was after it had already managed to get center Hassan Whiteside to agree to a four-year, $98 million max contract last Friday and then unsuccessfully tried to recruit Kevin Durant to South Florida on Sunday.
Wade, who turns 35 in January, felt neglected by the Heat and insulted he wasn’t a bigger priority. A source told The Herald team president Pat Riley never called Wade during the entire negotiation process, a sign of how bitter things got between the organization and its superstar.
Still, Wade didn’t air his grievances with the Heat on TV Thursday. Instead, he opted to appreciate the good times.
“I just want to thank all my fans,” Wade said. “I call it...we call it Heat Nation. Just around the world, just by the way they embrace me, this little shy kid from Chicago, came from Milwaukee to Miami and really grew up. We did some special things together.
“I didn’t do it by myself. I had so many unbelievable teammates along the way. But our fans are just phenomenal — all the Heat Nation in the world. We even have Heat fans in New York because I heard cheers last year [on the show].”
Ripa said she was surprised Wade didn’t call in to cancel on his co-host duties after what had to have been an emotional night. Wade said his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, didn’t even want to go out to dinner.
Still, Wade said he’s happy to be heading home to Chicago.
“I was born and raised in Chicago,” Wade said. “I had a house there until 2010 when I got married again and I had to get rid of it because it was a bachelor pad.
“I’m excited to go back to the place I’ve always envisioned playing basketball. Being a kid growing up, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls [were] the team for us. I’ve always envisioned myself — being in the backyard with a Bulls jersey on — always envisioned Dwyane Wade’s name being called in the United Center. I get an opportunity to live that dream out now.”
After the show, Wade tweeted a series of sentimental messages to his fans: