Wade said Thursday that he has authorized agent Henry Thomas to listen to any viable offers that may be out there for him to play internationally this season – with the caveat that, until such time as all hope for an NBA season is gone, he won’t be signing any deal with any other club.
“I told my agent to just take a peek,” Wade said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s time. There’s a possibility that we’re not going to have a season. We’ve got to see what’s out there, what the possibilities are. I want to play competitive basketball this year. I’ve missed a year of basketball in my life before. I’m not trying to miss another. I don’t have too many years of basketball left.”
Wade sat out his first season of college basketball at Marquette while getting academics and eligibility issues in order. This, obviously, is a different sort of issue.
It’s not like he’s lost all hope for a season – not even close, actually. Wade said he still has some hope that the season can begin on Christmas, though he acknowledges that seems less than likely.
“I’m with the majority. When everybody’s ready to go, I’m ready to go,” Wade said. “I’m ready to stick with our guns if that’s what we decide to do. The message to fans doesn’t change from what I’ve said: It’s hard for players to say that we’re sorry for this, because people say that we’re not. This is our job and you see what we have to do. No one wants to be on the court more than the players.”
He was speaking Thursday between shooting takes of a new Gatorade ad campaign that launches early next year. It was the 140th day of the lockout, and as he spoke, he looked out a floor-to-ceiling glass window not far from the AmericanAirlines Arena – the building where the Heat play their home games.
The 2006 NBA finals MVP was back in that arena Tuesday night, as a guest for a concert featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West. It was his first time in the building since the Heat wrapped up their end-of-season business after losing the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Once the lockout started when the existing labor deal expired June 30, teams have not been allowed to contact players, nor give them access to their facilities.
So when Wade went there Tuesday, he couldn’t venture anywhere near the Heat locker room.
“I went through an entrance I’d never gone through before,” Wade said. “It was weird. Very weird, walking into that arena. It was different staff, then I saw some people I knew, but it was weird. It’s just unfortunate that it’s got to be like that. It’s like you’re a criminal, like you can’t walk into a place because you’ve done something wrong. I won a championship here. I’d like to win another one.”
Wade has stayed busy during the lockout, with tons of work-related travel and continually trying to build his business brand. He just got back from Australia, flies to Oregon for meetings Friday, has more work lined up next week and is working all that around the demands of being a full-time dad to his two sons, neither of whom seem to mind that the Heat aren’t playing games right now.
“They like having me around,” Wade said.
So his two biggest fans are taken care of. It’s the other ones that Wade worries about.
He’s an endorser for several products, Nike’s Jordan Brand included, which might seem a bit awkward these days given the brand’s namesake – Michael Jordan – is one of the NBA owners on the opposite side of the negotiating table from where players are. Wade said it’s not necessarily awkward for him, but does worry about what the lockout may do to his business dealings.
“I’ve built a fan base and I’ve built a brand, but obviously than there’s nothing bigger than the basketball court, that stage,” Wade said. “There are things that I’ve got to worry about that people don’t necessarily understand or probably don’t care about, but it’s one of the things that I have to care about.”
Foremost, though, he wants to play. In Miami. And soon.
Wade said he didn’t know what the league’s player representatives were going to say on Monday before the news conference that revealed talks between them and the NBA had broken down and the union was beginning to transition into a trade organization with hopes of finding a deal another way.
He’s anxious and concerned, for certain. He’s planning to spend Thanksgiving with longtime girlfriend Gabrielle Union and her family. For Christmas – one of his favorite days to watch NBA games – he’d like Union’s family to join his family. And if the NBA says “game on,” he’d be more than happy to re-do his holiday plans.
“Hopefully,” Wade said. “Hopefully. You never know. They haven’t said `No games on Christmas’ yet. So I still can say there’s hope.”