An Evening with NBA Star Dwyane Wade
At June’s Bloomberg Businessweek Debrief, editor-in-chief Joel Weber sat down with 12-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade for a candid, warm, and thoughtful interview. Dwyane has scored more than 22,000 career points, grabbed 4,000 rebounds, and won three NBA championships and an Olympic Gold Medal. Dwyane said he just wanted to play in the NBA, and everything else was the cherry on top of his career. Joel asked some insightful questions that generated an open and honest dialogue. Here’s just a small collection of some of the conversation points:
- Dwyane credits David Stern, the previous NBA commissioner, for doing an amazing job of helping grow the game (internationally) by giving it a facelift—removing the thuggishness and fighting that was rampant. He also transformed the NBA by getting the players more involved in the community and asking them to help build the brand, encouraging the newer players to start thinking of the NBA as more of a business.
- Dwyane noted that the best team he played against was the San Antonio Spurs, featuring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Much like the Golden State Warriors of today, they challenged you in so many ways, particularly with the mental part of the game.
- Dwyane acknowledged that he is part of the “dynasty” problem in the NBA. Essentially, a team needs dynastic talent to win an NBA championship ring these days. Further, the perception is that individual players need to be part of a championship dynasty to be considered great or hall-of-fame caliber. Dwyane cites when the Miami Heat brought the ‘big three’—himself, LeBron James and Chris Bosh—together in 2009 as the starting point for this mindset.
- Dwyane was humbled when asked if the players talk about de-throning a dynasty. He is also a fan of the sport and is excited to see how other teams make moves and strategize to knock off the Warriors. Those who say the Warriors dynasty is hurting the game are wrong, he cautions. It takes the game to a higher level. He also believes many of the league’s young coaches—like Brad Stephens, Eric Spoelstra and David Fizdale—are underrated masterminds who are transforming the game.
- In their far-reaching conversation, Dwyane acknowledged lying to his mother: He told her he wanted to be a doctor, when all along he really wanted to be a basketball player. A shy, introverted child, he was a little unsure of himself but started gaining confidence in college and continued to grow as a professional. It allowed him to explore the creative juices that he uses in his business empire today.
- He recognizes that Dwyane Wade is a brand. But there were missteps: After opening a restaurant with his so-called friends at age 23, he wound up spending several years fending off legal issues. It was then he realized he needed to take control and do things for himself, not others.
- He reached out to basketball legend Magic Johnson for advice when he decided he wanted to build his own lifestyle brand. Magic advised him that no idea is stupid; that he should write ideas down wherever and whenever they come to mind. Later, Dwyane sent ten ideas to his business team while on a flight. He built his personal team from the ground up, starting with his long-time agent. From there, he added a business manager. He then looked at how the NBA was changing and added a stylist and others where necessary and he signed with talent agency CAA.
- His successfully diverse business ventures now include Wade Cellars wines, Dwyane Wade Socks, and his own line of luggage.
- Dwyane talked about how basketball was ingrained in his older son, Zaire, from birth. He used to bring him to the college gym until late in the evening and basketball just became a part of Zaire. Dwyane’s son was somewhat of a late bloomer, but he ultimately got those recruiting calls from colleges. He was hesitant to tell his dad, as carrying a famous last name could be a burden, but Dwyane wants his son’s dreams to come true just like his.
• Dwyane’s ultimate goal is to be part of an NBA ownership group; he pointed out that Commissioner Adam Silver encourages players in their pursuit. He notes Grant Hill with Atlanta and Shaquille O’Neal with Sacramento. It will be something he focuses on after his playing days are over.
Finally, he got emotional speaking about Joaquin Oliver, a Parkland School shooting victim, and the Oliver family, who wanted to bury their son in a Dwyane Wade jersey. He is in touch with the Parkland community, and he understands why teens want to spread their message and wants to be a voice for them as well.