Life is good for Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Oh, and business is good, too.
Just take a look at the TV ratings from Wade’s first game back in a Heat uniform.
Friday’s win over the Bucks was the most watched game of the season on Fox Sports Sun and the most watched game on the network since the Heat lost to the Warriors on Feb. 24, 2016. Friday’s game was also the most streamed Heat game ever on Fox Sports Go.
On top of that, ESPN reported jersey sales for the Heat jumped 8,000 percent after the Heat acquired Wade from the Cavaliers in a trade last week.
“It’s amazing,” Wade said after Monday’s practice. “A lot of it has to do with that Miami name and Wade name together. People love that. It definitely wasn’t like that when I had that No. 9 in Cleveland, I didn’t hear that. It’s definitely a combination of excitement of Heat Nation around the world and seeing both of those names together. I’m definitely lucky, I’m blessed. This organization is, too, that we can have that kind of impact. It’s pretty cool. I always thank everyone who supports me. It’s such a cool thing. I don’t take it for granted.”
Wade sat down with ESPN’s Jorge Sedano for an interview Monday before the Heat left for Toronto. Here are some of the interesting topics he spoke about …
* How much longer does Wade think he will play? He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he’s made it clear that he will not leave the Heat again before he retires.
“I don’t know,” Wade said to Sedano. “I’ll leave it up to Coach Riley. He always told me I would play to 40. I was like ‘No. Never.’
“I’m 36. How did I even get here? Right now, I’m playing the game and I’m taking it year by year. I’m going into the summer seeing how I feel, especially from this point on and then we’ll see. But I’m here forever. This is Wade County forever. I will always be here. No matter where I go in the world, I will be here. Until I get done playing the game of basketball, I’ll have on a Miami Heat jersey and I will enjoy this ride as long as it lasts.”
* Wade said the Heat have already measured his body fat, and he knows he has some work to do.
“We had a conversation about that,” Wade said to Sedano. “I ate my last stack of pancakes when the trade went through. I went to lunch with Bron in Cleveland and I said, ‘It’s our last lunch and this is my last bad meal.’ But definitely, I understand the culture. I understand what’s expected here. I got a lot of work to do. I’m coming in like anybody else. I come in and I got to do extra bike work, extra conditioning, everything to make sure I’m at my peak performance. It’s going to take me a little while to get there, but I will.”
“They got t-shirts around here that say weight and body fat. My first day, I got on the scale and gave them my body fat. It’s like, ‘Alright, we got to do some extra work and cut some of that body fat down.'”
* Does Wade want a farewell tour? He’s spoken to Kobe Bryant about his farewell tour in 2016, but it’s not something he wants for himself.
“I’m not a narcissist like that,” Wade said to Sedano. “I don’t think I need it. I’m not calling Kobe a narcissist. He earned it and needed that. But I can’t set out and say I want a farewell tour like Kobe Bryant. That’s not who I am. I don’t really talk about it because it’s not here yet, but when the time comes [to retire] I’ll announce it in my own D-Wade fashion. Hopefully I can move on and live on the memories from that point on.”
* Don’t expect Wade to recruit LeBron James to the Heat this summer.
“I ain’t got nothing to do with it,” Wade said to Sedano of James’ potential recruitment. “One thing I know is he makes his own decisions. When he gets to that point, hopefully he takes a good look at the place he’s at, gives it real consideration and goes from there. It’s his decision and I don’t want nothing to do with it at all.”
* What did Wade miss about Miami?
“I just miss laying by my pool. The things I took for granted,” Wade said to Sedano. “I haven’t done a lot of things. But if I’ve been anywhere outside in Miami, it’s been a great ovation. I don’t know how it was when I wasn’t here, but right now I feel like the city has got a buzz going. And not just about me, I think about what I can add and what I can help this team do. I think they love this team, and to add someone like me with the veteran leadership and ability to be able to help on the basketball court, as well. I think the city is happy with the team that we have.”
Wade said he went to dinner Sunday at Kiki on the River on the Miami River and he was greeted with “a slow clap that turns into a whole ovation for a whole 10 minutes. It’s cool.”
* Wade again pointed to the hug he shared with Heat president Pat Riley at the funeral of agent Henry Thomas as an important moment. How does Wade feel about his relationship with Riley now?
“It’s always been a respect of Pat Riley the coach, Pat Riley the president because he cares about winning,” Wade said to Sedano. “He has a culture, he has a belief, a system, and I know it works. It’s just like any relationship, you go through trying times. But overall we’ve had a great relationship. We have a great amount of respect for each other. We love each other.
“I know I’m successful because I’ve been in his organization. And, I’ve added a little bit to his legacy – not a lot, just a little bit to his legacy. But I’m definitely an important part of this franchise that was important to him when he came here – to get this franchise off the ground. So that connection and relationship will always be forever.”
* Would Wade want a do-over for how things unfolded in the summer of 2016?
“If you can go back, I think you would do over a lot of things,” Wade said to Sedano. “I think for me, for the organization, for the city of Miami, by me leaving I think we all appreciate each other just a little bit more. If I never left – I’m not saying they wouldn’t appreciate me, but it wouldn’t be the same. And the same here. I appreciate the city more, I appreciate the organization more and I had to leave to figure that out. The same thing from the city of Miami and for the organization. Everything worked itself the way it did for a reason I believe.”
* What did Wade make of this Heat team before he arrived?
“Not even what I make, I think it’s what the NBA makes of this team,” Wade said to Sedano. “Just the amount of respect for the way that the Miami Heat plays the game and the way these players attack the game. So I definitely looked at that and saw that these guys go hard. Whenever we played them, I said, ‘Listen, we got to be ready because they’re coming. They’re coming for us.'”