Months after tense, at times rancorous, contract talks culminated in a one-year, $20 million deal with the Heat, Dwyane Wade on Wednesday night reiterated his desire to finish his career in Miami and endorsed management’s offseason reworking of the roster.
“I thought Pat Riley and Micky Arison and Nick Arison did a great job of building this team,” Wade said before being inducted into the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Sports Hall of Champions at Marlins Park.
“We have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, to get into the playoffs and hope to compete for a championship…. [But] I really like this team. We’ve got a lot of depth… I love playing with veteran guys.
“When you can add youth like Justise [Winslow] and… [second-round pick] Josh [Richardson], when you add those guys into veteran guys, it could be special. We have all the ingredients. We just have to make sure we mix it right. It’s going to be a long journey of ups and downs and highs and lows. Hopefully at the end we end on a high.”
After four consecutive years of playing deep into June, Wade “enjoyed” a lengthy layoff this offseason, with Miami missing the playoffs for only the second time in his career.
“I’ve been so blessed to be able to play in five Finals and many playoff series and many meaningful games,” Wade said.
“Sometimes you don’t get a break. And life keeps going. To get a break from basketball for a while, not saying I want to be out of the playoffs. Once it was reality we weren’t getting in, you had to say it wasn’t meant to be. There’s a reason for this. Hopefully that reason shows its face this year.”
The Heat begins training camp Sept. 29, likely at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and Wade is eager “to get things going, get around the guys, start building that bond. And you hope what you build is special enough to have a memorable season.”
Wade appeared slim and in very good shape Wednesday but said he has added back some weight after losing “a lot” earlier in the summer. “I’m good; I’m in basketball shape,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Wade told 790 The Ticket that he changed his workout approach this summer.
“For myself, I will be turning 34 this year,” he told Ethan Skolnick and Israel Gutierrez. “I'm going into my 13th year. A lot of people didn't think I would make it this long with the way I play, the style of play.
“This summer was trying to challenge myself with my body. The last couple of summers I worked with my amazing trainer, Tim Grover. This summer I decided to switch trainers and go a different way to give my body a different experience. I'm working with a trainer down here named Dave Alexander.
“I've been feeling good. I've been working on my body. Hopefully when the moments come, you can live up to the moment. For me, going into my 13th year, especially coming off last year, it's doing whatever I can to help this team win. I've always done that.”
Wade’s summer included spending several days working out and bonding with most of his Heat teammates and coaches in Los Angeles.
“The L.A. thing was all Chris Bosh; Chris came to me,” he said. “I thought Chris did an unbelievable job of stepping up and being a leader and getting all of us together to get to Joshua Tree and spending time with the coaches and working out at his house in L.A. It’s something we hadn’t done before.
“Last year was a tough year for everyone. The summer and LeBron [James] leaving and everyone was all up in arms. We put this team together and we had a lot of injuries going on and the team never got a chance to really learn each other, get to know each other. We didn't do the things we had done in the past to kind of build that bond or chemistry. Everyone was kind of to themselves.”
Getting together in Los Angeles last month “was an idea to say, we've got to do it different this year. We've got to deal with this brotherhood, build this bond sooner if we want to compete the way I think we all do.”
Wade said being inducted into Miami’s Sports Hall of Champions left him “at a loss for words… I’m overwhelmed and appreciative. I love the city. Everyone knows it.
“There’s a business side of everything. But my heart, and where I always said I wanted to be, was here. I started my career here and I would like to finish it. I came here just happy to be here, just wanting to make this organization proud for drafting me as the fifth pick.”
### Wade said he wore a Jets jersey at Sunday’s New York-Cleveland game because he’s “very, very good friends with [Jets receiver] Brandon Marshall.”
He told The Ticket: “I don't know why people in Florida like to test my faith in my belief and my love for Miami because I wear a jersey to a game. I'm in this community. I have done everything I can from a basketball standpoint, to help this town be successful and I will continue to do that. The
heart is there, the love is there…. Don't question my loyalty, you all. Do not question my loyalty.”
Also inducted into Miami’s Sports Hall of Champions on Wednesday: tennis legend Chris Evert (who was unable to attend because of illness), golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former MLB player and general manager Woody Woodward.
In a response to feedback from season-ticket holders, the Heat has moved four Friday/Saturday home games from 7:30 to 8 p.m.: Nov. 21 (76ers), Dec. 5 (Cavaliers), Dec. 18 (Raptors) and March 25 (Magic).
### Heat coach Erik Spoelstra announced on The Ticket that he got engaged this summer.
His fiancée: Nikki Sapp, a former Heat dancer and dance instructor who has run an art gallery in Los Angeles.
“We found out in LA,” Wade said. “We gave him a hard time. We’re happy for him. Never thought I’d see this day.”