Wade Meets Media in Independence
There were league-wide whispers about it all summer long, but on Friday afternoon in the flesh, it officially became a reality: future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade is a Cleveland Cavalier.
On a squad already filled to the brim with veteran talent, the 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA Champion signifies the most talented club Cleveland has ever sent to the hardwood. And after Friday’s practice, Wade made his first public appearance at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Wade was introduced to the collective media by Cavs GM Koby Altman – who’s had an offseason for the ages.
”What we’re so excited about is his Championship DNA, his undying commitment to winning, his work ethic, his attitude and his leadership that’s he’s going to bring to the table every day,” praised Altman. “He’s going to help this team a ton on the court but also in the locker room. We’re just really, really fortunate to add a player of this caliber to this team for this year.”
Wade returned to his hometown of Chicago as a free agent last year after spending the previous 13 in Miami. When the Bulls dealt Jimmy Butler on Draft night this past June, Wade knew that he might be changing addresses. Had the Bulls not decided to rebuild, Wade admits that he’d probably still be there.
But unlike 2010, it was LeBron James that was doing the recruiting.
Dwayne Wade is surrounded by a sea of media following Friday’s Day 4 Training Camp session at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Photo by Joe Sykes / Cavs.com
”It wasn’t heavy recruiting,” recalled Wade, flashing his trademark smile. “I think the first time (James) reached out to me was a couple days after Jimmy (Butler) got traded. And he just texted me and said: ‘Hey man, just checking on you.’”
Earlier this week, the Bulls did decide to go in another direction, buying out the eight-time All-NBA performer. And although Oklahoma City and San Antonio reportedly made a major push for Wade’s services, the draw of playing with one of his closest friends (on a loaded team) won him over.
”Things like this (signing with Cleveland), you don’t plan it, it just happens,” explained Wade. “Having a friend like LeBron – if we were just friends this probably wouldn’t have happened, but we’re two pretty good basketball players, so that helps. This right here is something that came about because the situation in Chicago went in a little different direction in a different way than I wanted to be a part of – in a rebuilding phase.
”And once I got the opportunity to get the buyout, I looked around and I was flattered by the teams that reached out, but at the end of the day this is where I wanted to be, this is where I felt I should be from a basketball perspective.”
Like LeBron, Wade comes into the campaign as one of the Association’s most decorated vets.
Over the course of his career, Wade’s averaged 23.3 points, 4.8 boards, 5.7 assists and 1.64 steals. In the postseason, he’s been just as great – averaging 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.55 steals and 1.01 in 172 contests.
And while Wade hasn’t always been in good graces with Cavalier fans – especially during the four seasons he and James teamed up in South Beach – the former Marquette standout has a deep respect for the Cleveland faithful.
”You look at the Cavs fans you look at Oklahoma City fans you look at the Golden State fans look at these kind of fans, you know those are real sports fans,” said Wade. “You know they cheer for the teams, and the energy in the stadium is amazing. So, I’m definitely in ‘The Land’ now – trying to get the lingo down.”
And Wade comes to Cleveland with a good bit of familiarity with his new squad – both on the floor and with the coaching staff.
“It felt seamless. I told my family, just give me a jersey and it felt normal, it felt seamless.”
”I’ve been in the league 15 years, so I know all these guys, pretty much. If they’re not a rookie, I know them.”
Wade continued: “I played with James Posey, I’ve played with Damon Jones. I won a Championship with James Posey. When I came in here the other day, it felt like a reunion in a sense. So I think from what I’ve done in this game it’s obviously respect from the players and those two, just from the relationship that we’ve had.
”With LeBron and these guys, I’ve been around this organization from afar. I know everybody. I know the coaches. It felt seamless. I told my family, just give me a jersey and it felt normal, it felt seamless.”
Wade admitted looking forward to wrapping up all the media stuff and getting back after it on the hardwood.
With Wade and this summer’s sizeable infusion of talent, Tyronn Lue knows he’ll have some tough decisions to make – starting this weekend and continuing throughout the year. But as he’s said on multiple occasions, it’s a great problem to have.
Lue praised his incoming 2-guard again on Friday.
”Just his poise, getting guys shots (Wade) never gets sped up, no matter how crazy the game may be,” said Lue. “Whether they’re pressing, whatever they’re doing, he’s always poised and under control and seems to make the right play all the time.”
Cleveland will get its first look at Wade in Cavs colors in Monday night’s Wine and Gold Scrimmage at The Q. The rest of the league gets their chance beginning two nights later, when the Hawks roll in on Wednesday.
It almost doesn’t seem real – this vast collection of talent the Eastern Conference Champs have amassed over the offseason. But for Cavalier fans, that reality will be fulfilled in less than a week.