This week’s “Renaissance Man” guest is a future NBA Hall of Famer, a father of four and a Hollywood husband. What he is not is a could’ve should’ve would’ve kind of guy living for his glory days. I asked Dwyane Wade about one of the biggest “what ifs” in the history of the NBA: What if LeBron James had stayed in Miami and continued to play with Dwyane and Chris Bosh? Could they have raised more championship banners in “Wade County”? He does not think so.
“I wasn’t in my prime anymore,” he told me. “And so that would have made it hard for us to really win if I was still going to be a big part of it. Chris Bosh, you know, not knowing what he was going to be dealing with later. He was in his prime and LeBron was in his, but I wasn’t in mine anymore. And it would have made it tough to keep going … my body was going through so much, so I felt like it ended when it should have, Jalen. I felt like we had an amazing run and we had an amazing college experience. And I felt like that four years was all we needed and we accomplished, you know, obviously what we accomplished, but I think it was enough.”
But the Chicago native, who has three NBA championship rings, knows his days of league titles aren’t necessarily behind him. He’s now a part owner of one of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz, led by Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay. He has a particularly close relationship with Mitchell.
“I know there’s a lot of great defenders in the league. But you cannot argue with what [Donovan Mitchell] brings to the game of basketball,” Wade said.
In November, he published his photo memoir, “Dwyane,” which chronicles his journey to become one of the best shooting guards in the game.
“It’s an image for a young kid to be able to look at someone that grew up like them, that looks like them, [talks] like them and see what’s possible,” he said, adding that Michael Jordan and, ahem, the Fab Five were tangible, touchable pictures to him and a testament to the idea of unlimited potential. “I wanted to be an image maker,” he said.
And showing is better than telling. D Wade admitted he was a “very shy kid.”
“I wasn’t someone who liked to talk or ask questions, so I would just listen,” he said. “If you ask anybody that knows me from back then, everyone [would say] ‘no way that this guy is the guy that he is today.’”
Now he is a smooth operator on and off the court. He’s a noted style guy and a vocal leader in the hoops world. It might have something to do with his other business, a wine endeavor called Wade Cellars. And you know what they say: in vino veritas.
But that transition from a young player to a mature businessman didn’t happen without work on his physical and emotional game. His wife Gabrielle Union was also a “Renaissance Man” guest and talked about how important therapy was when he hung up his jersey.
“I remember my first time going to therapy once I retired because I thought to myself any other time when I had rage, I had frustration or I had fear, anger, whatever, I could take it out on a basketball court,” he said. “I don’t have that outlet anymore. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to take it out on the ones closest to me, and that’s my loved ones. So let me go, sit also on my couch and talk about it. And I remember walking in and thinking I had nothing to really say. And two hours later I was like, ‘And when I was 3 years old’ … You know you needed it, and you needed all that.”
When he was a kid, he dreamed about putting his family in a better financial situation.
“I dreamed about one day having a big Thanksgiving and bringing all my family together,” he said. “At the end of the day, I feel like my biggest purpose in this life is to be a father. And I feel that it’s my most rewarding, and it’s the hardest job that I have.”
“I’m trying my best to treat each kid individually as they appear and get to know each of them,” he said. “And so Zaya … She’s not Zaire … I’m loving the young lady that I’m getting the chance to be introduced to. So I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special. I feel like I’ve just done what is in the books for a parent to do, and that’s to sit back and listen and love and learn about your child. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”
With Christmas only a few days away, I had to ask about his highs and lows during games on Jesus’ birthday.
“Well, I didn’t have a lot of bad memories. I think I ended my career 10-3 on Christmas … My favorite Christmas moment is tough. I played in the Garden … played against Kobe like five times on Christmas. So I guess my favorite one would have to be the first one when Shaq [went back to LA] for his first Christmas game,” he said adding the energy was crazy. “Shaq dunked on Andrew Bynum. And I remember he was running down, said, ‘I built this,’ ooh … you know, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, man.’”
It’s not a stretch to say my friend has been a part of a lot of winning during his almost 40 years on this earth. But in 2013, he took a giant sartorial L when he wore a floral Versace bomber to a post-game press conference.
“That was a bad moment. It was at a press conference. It didn’t look right. I failed,” he admitted. Well, from the man who doesn’t miss, it’s refreshing to know even D Wade chucks up an air ball now and again.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.