For the first time since shockingly departing the Miami Heat for his hometown Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade opened up to CSN Chicago in advance of his Thursday return to American Airlines Arena.
Looking at Wade’s quotes, it’s not hard to read between the lines and see his primary reasons for leaving were a combination of money, ego, and perceived disrespect.
Contentious negotiations followed when Wade opted out from the deal he signed in 2010 to try to help the Heat retain James, only to see James return to Cleveland after the 2013-14 season.
“That’s when things started changing,” Wade said. “They decided to max out Chris, which I was all for. And then it became a situation with me from that standpoint and I wasn’t happy with it.”
Wade and Bosh shared the same agent at the time, Henry Thomas, but they all operated as separate entities compared to their initial partnership. Wade signed a short deal but clearly wasn’t satisfied as their long-term objectives begun to grow wider and wider as Wade got older.
Meanwhile, if Wade is gonna have some resentment it should be towards LeBron James first (for opting out) and his agent second (for securing Bosh to a max deal when reports are Bosh would’ve taken less, which would’ve allowed more money for Dwyane).
“I ain’t gonna say, oh, I was happy go lucky,” he said. “Then I opted out again and the next year I signed the one-year, $20 million deal because I never made $20 million in a season. I wanted multiple years, they wanted to be players in free agency, I understand that.”
It seems while Wade understood where Miami was coming from, he still became irritated over never being paid max dollar during his final primal years, expecting Pat Riley and crew to make it up to him in 2016.
The Heat chose not to overpay and give him that Kobe Bryant two-year max “retirement gift,” which would’ve put them in a terrible place financially, especially with Chris Bosh’s situation taking up such a huge chunk of the team’s cap.
After years of taking less for others, Wade was looking out for himself first. I don’t blame him but it didn’t fit with the Heat’s plans.
Making the decision to choose Chicago meant putting himself first, and he was asked if that was difficult.
“No. At this age and point in my career, it wasn’t,” Wade said. “And that’s why I tell everybody it wasn’t a hard decision. It’s tough to make a decision when you know you get a couple days to make this decision and it’s not gonna be the most popular decision because of X, Y and Z.
“For me, I don’t know how many more years I have left to play this game. It’s about doing what I want to do at this moment. Not saying I didn’t do what I wanted, I always did what I wanted, but it’s continuing to have the ability to do that. And I did. I put myself first for once. I didn’t say, hey, I waited on Miami to come to me. At the end of the day, I could’ve come back to Miami and made great money. The contract they offered me was good. By the time it got to me, my heart was somewhere else.”
This stands out:
“The contract they offered me was good. By the time it got to me, my heart was somewhere else.”
This plays into the feeling some had that the Heat were doing just enough publicly to show they were legitimately pursuing Wade, but really preferring he would leave. How Wade felt they “didn’t even fight” for him.
I don’t believe that’s the case.
I think they thought Wade was bluffing and would return at a salary they were comfortable with. Putting Hassan Whiteside before Wade was not only a smart business decision but a shrewd basketball move, as was pursuing whale free agent Kevin Durant first.
And when they came back and offered Wade the $40 million (about equal to what he took in Chicago after factoring in state taxes, per CSN), it was too late to repair the damage. Wade’s ego had to have taken a hit from the Heat making him — the most important player in franchise history — third fiddle, offering a return as its third highest paid player, behind both Bosh and Whiteside.
There were no winners here in the end. Both Wade and the Heat operated in their own best interest and the divorce ended up being a necessary one.
Wade is going to be gunning for 50 on Thursday night.