Dwyane Wade is no stranger to doing the unexpected.
Think back to summer 2012. After not re-signing with Jordan Brand, Wade partnered with a little-known Chinese clothing brand at the time called Li-Ning. Fast-paced nearly a decade later, the Miami Heat legend now has a lifelong deal with Li-Ning while his “Way of Wade” imprint features a roster of players including D’Angelo Russell and Udonis Haslem.
“My way here was funky, so I’m not going to be traditional now,” Wade told the Miami Herald on Friday.
So it should come as no surprise that when Wade came to Miami to promote his new memoir “Dwayne,” he celebrated as a man, in his words, unconventional: an immersive exhibition in honor of his legacy. Curated by Wade’s longtime friend and creative director Calyann Barnett, “DWYANE Miami” allowed fans to relive some of NBA75’s most iconic moments. And as usual whenever Wade comes home, the town has made sure he feels the love: The drinks were named “Dwyane” and “59th & Prairie”; No. 3 shirts were all over the place; Nicknamed the Queen of Miami, Trina has stamped him as a true Miami-Dade County legend.
“My love for the city will never fade, will never go anywhere because Miami has always been true to me,” Wade told the audience during the evening discussion segment.
As much as Wade’s love for Miami, his journey can no longer be defined by what he did while wearing No. 3. He’s become a multi-partner in his post-play days—hosting a game show, owning Utah Jazz, pushing the boundaries of black parenthood—so much so that the reference to Wade on That he’s “retired” seems almost disrespectful. Between discussing Dwayne and watching the show, Wade chatted with the Miami Herald about everything from putting the memoirs together to hating the Big Three to changing blacks’ perspective on Utah.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
The Herald: You’re from Chicago. You grew up watching Jordan. Why switch from Jordan to Li-Ning?
Growing up watching Jordan isn’t just watching him as a basketball player. You also have a chance to view it as a businessman. And so you see some of the moves he made and you want to, you want to do some of those moves, right? And to be able to be a part of [Jordan] Brand and, um, that dream was huge, but to be able to try to take off and build my own, it’s kind of impressive, you know how I’ve always been doing things. I always had to make my own way, but not reinvent the wheel. you know? I mean, Jordan obviously did that and really gave us a blueprint. So, it was important to me to be able to start my own brand.
Where does this willingness to go against the flow come from? Is this normal or did someone teach you that?
I do not know. For me, I don’t see it as going against the current. I’m fine with taking the steps I’m afraid to take. Everything is not for everyone. And I think sometimes the world is a cookie-cutter. It’s like, “Hey, you’re doing this, they did this. So you have to do this.” I didn’t grow up that way. Like my way, my way here was funky, so I won’t be traditional now.
Speaking of this unconventional path, I know one of the big surprises, at least for me Personally, have you been hosting the game show “The Cube”. I read that you were kind of surprised that you had the opportunity. How did it go, and then what?
It went great because I did something I had no experience with that I never thought I would do. Not only did I have a great experience, but I thought all the runners got a great experience from it. So, you know, you go through life, man, and sometimes we say, “No, we’d never do that,” or sometimes you just don’t trust your ability to do something. But because I was afraid to do it, the reason I had to do it was, you know, not to let something like that corner me. So I decided to do it. And I said, “If you’re smitten with it, at least give it a try.” We’ve had some success. So I hope I can keep doing that more and let that branch out into other things.
Shifting gears to share ownership with the Jazz Company. I know you have an affair with Donovan Mitchell. What role did that relationship play in buying the ownership stake?
I mean, this is a separate piece. The property is a bit more on the business side. My relationship with Don is akin to an older brother, mentor, and person who has played the game before. For me, it was the same for Ryan Smith [ the new owner of the Jazz] element of it and then get a chance to get to know other individuals in the property group. That was important. So for me, it’s about building and I felt like I had a great opportunity at a young age to get into this space early, to learn this space, but also to start building for my next career. And that’s just one element of it, and that’s just one chess move for me. We hope there will be more in the future.
I read in GQ that you wanted to come to change the perspective of black people in Utah. So convince me. Why Utah?
I can’t convince you. I am not a good seller. I think we have a lot of work to do. This doesn’t just happen because I became part of the property. So we have a lot of work in the state and the city. That’s what the Smith family does. This is what a lot of people in society do. I think the most important thing is that we have a very small percentage of minorities in Utah. It doesn’t seem like a great experience because we don’t have a lot of data. We have a lot of things to build. We have a lot of programming to change. Ryan and Utah Jazz have done an amazing job providing full riding scholarships for people of color in Utah. So we’re slowly trying to do things to expose Utah minorities and minorities to Utah.
With Zaire recently joining the jazz side of the Salt Lake City Stars, it’s clear that their path to the NBA was a little different than yours. What advice did you give him?
The biggest thing in the playing team is the Zaire Valley. This idea that your dad, mom, uncle, or someone in your family is good at something and that you should be just like them because you chose to go down the same path is ridiculous. We all have our own journeys and our own paths in life. I want Zaire to be able to walk alone.
Speaking of parenting, you set a great example to black parents in the way you embrace Zaya and her journey in finding herself. Has parenthood changed for you over time? Is raising girls different from boys?
Everything is different, man. Every child is different, whether you are a boy or a girl. It’s not like, “Hey, I can father boys like this. I can only father girls like this.” It’s not that way. We all come in our own individual package and we all have individual instructions. It is the parents’ job to be able to actually read these instructions and try to figure out how to build a great human being. For me, it’s really trying to do a good job of learning and understanding my kids, listening, watching, actually observing and taking care of them and their wants and needs and not just what I want or need. I don’t know if that’s revolutionary. I don’t know if that’s what everyone does. That’s what I do and that’s what works for my family.
So let’s move on to the book. Talk to me about the process of condensing your life into 300 pages or so.
Yes, no, you can’t do that. I couldn’t condense my whole life. But that was just a part of my career, my life that I wanted to talk about and I thought was important to talk about. Then we go back and see how sports relate to life. I went back and talked a lot about my childhood and my life and just showing you how it all relates. But no, it’s just a small part of it.
What was the hardest part of putting together a book?
Photo selection. We had two million or more photos to try and narrow it down. Finding the right pictures that not only speak to you, but can speak to the people who will, hopefully, buy these books, who will see these pictures. You try, you know, to be a prophet and think what they’re going to get out of these photos. This is a difficult process. So we hope we captured that.
I know the Big Three take part in the book. When you guys made that decision, it obviously caused a lot of hate. How much of this hatred was based on the fact that these were three black men making a decision for themselves?
You know what it is like, man, when it comes to change. Sometimes you have to pull people kicking and screaming. That was a change there for the league. It never happened this way with three players of this caliber. So it was like an artificial intelligence guy. When he came, he had arms, tattoos, and leg sleeves, and he hated it. But now anyone else can do it. Same with us, we hated it so anyone else could do it.
I obviously can’t let you leave without asking about the heat. I went to AAA, or AAA previously. Wait, do you still call it AAA?
It’s FTX. They paid the money. They pay the bills there. You better call it FTX [laughs].
Ok FTX. How was the experience? I’m sure it’s been over a year.
It was great. It was like you were there yesterday. I spent a lot of time in that arena. You can change the name. You can change the paint. The building is the same. And so once you’re in, history goes back. They even wore a mix shirt. This is all our legacy and our history. And so it all comes back. It was great to be there. I’ve had an amazing career. I have given everything I have for the game and it is still respected by the fan base, the ownership group and the entire team – that is love. This goes further than anything. we love each other. It was great to show that love again.
I saw a fake Sebo like he was doing to you Celebrating the classic jump.
I wish he would. I wish he would.
Are there any predictions or predictions about the heat after checking them in person?
No, I don’t have anything. This is not me. I’m not on TNT so I can’t answer that [laughs].