MIAMI — Heat guard Dwyane Wade spoke to the media Friday afternoon for the first time since being traded to the Heat on Thursday. Here’s what Wade had to say …
* Wade will be available to play Friday against the Bucks. But he will not start, according to coach Erik Spoelstra.
* How did Wade find out he was being traded to the Heat?: “So, about 11:45 a.m. I left my house. I was headed into the practice gym in Cleveland. It was all day before we traveled so I was going to get some work in. And about 12 p.m., I got a text from my agent Leon Rose that said, ‘Call me 911.’ I haven’t gotten a lot ‘911 call me now’ on the trade deadline throughout my career. So I knew it was something.
“At first it was the possibility of it. He told me about the conversation from Cleveland’s side. He said it was a conversation, something that was being talked about. Obviously I had to agree to it. And I definitely agreed to it. Then it went from there. From there, it was just kind of waiting to see how everything worked out and played. So I decided to go and finish my day until I found out. Actually it was just me and LeBron [James] at the practice gym. We had lunch planned. So I said, ‘Well, since it finally happened and I’m going to Miami, let’s go have this last bad lunch. Because I’ve got to do body fat tomorrow. Let me go enjoy this food.’ I kind of had a sendoff lunch. And then I got on a plane and came here.”
* Does this all still seem surreal?: “A little bit. I wasn’t planning on coming here until late March. The one thing I always say about the NBA is you never know what’s going to happen — especially when you leave a place. I always talk to players about, ‘You never leave a place and throw shade on anyone or anything because you’re not there. You leave with grace and you never know what can happen.’ I’ve been here in a Miami uniform and seen a lot of my former teammates come back, a lot of former guys in a Miami uniform come back. So it’s definitely something I’ve seen and knew was possible from players in the past and definitely something envisioned for myself one day. I just didn’t know it would come right now. But I feel like the time is perfect.”
* On seeing Pat Riley at Henry Thomas’ funeral: “We hadn’t seen each other in a while. It was an emotional time for me so it definitely was good to be embraced by Pat for the moment that I was dealing with and that Udonis was dealing with and even our Miami Heat family was dealing with. We lost a loved one. It was just a hug, an embrace and I think that’s all we both needed, that we hadn’t seen each other in a while. You guys have seen us, we hugged a lot of times. It was just good.”
* On what Wade thinks Friday night’s game will be be like: “I definitely feel like it’s going to be a great environment. I’m excited for a lot of different reasons. But definitely the fan base that I grew up with, that grew up with me. Just to be back in the environment, I’m excited for my teammates as well. You go through a long season. This team is on a five-game [losing] streak. When you go through a long season, it’s a long lull and you kind of get a jolt of energy like tonight will be in the arena. The atmosphere will be great. I think tonight is going to be great for everybody as we go down the stretch of this season. I’m just excited to put on that jersey, get out there and just try not to be too bad.”
* LeBron James said he felt like Wade’s heart and mind were always here in Miami. Is that fair?: “Yeah, it was. I think especially when I walked in there [in Cleveland], I went there and felt there was a great chance to be a part of hopefully something special when I decided to stay there. To play with him again, etc. I think he [saw] that I watched closely with Miami all the time. If I was watching something he would say, ‘What you doing?’ Checking the Miami score and different things like that. I definitely think going back to the question I was just asked, I think you appreciate things a little bit more when you’re away from it. Probably him, as well. Me and him, we appreciate the times and moments we had. You don’t like to be in other environments saying ‘Remember when we were in Miami?’ We definitely had those conversations with each other about some of the things we did and how it was done and why it was done. Definitely, I’m happy to be back. My eyes and heart were always here. I said that from the beginning. It wasn’t going to go anywhere. I had a different zip code and jersey on my body, but who I am in the core, deep down inside, I was always here.”
* Does Wade have a preference of coming off bench or starting?: “I just want to win, man. At this point, I want to come here and be a part of these guys. As I talked about it a little bit yesterday, just to see from afar, to see the development of Josh Richardson, to see Goran be an All-Star at this level, to know what Whiteside is capable of with 20-20 nights. To be a part of all that and etc., there’s more guys down the line that I can go through. I just want to be a part of and bring what I can to this team. I’m not a coach. It’s not my job to coach and say where I should be. Coach will figure out where I fit in and how I fit in, and I just try to be the best in the role that’s presented to me either way it goes.”
* Does Wade still see himself as a closer?: “First of all, Dion [Waiters] definitely last year did an amazing job of not only making the shots, but taking them. Being the guy who wanted the ball. That’s not saying guys in the locker room can’t do that. But he’s a guy who wanted it. He’s been [bred] that way. But just playing against them, I told Udonis the other day after we lucked up and got a win the other night against the Heat, I told Udonis: ‘You guys are good, but you guys are missing something.’ I’m not saying I’m that something. But I definitely felt that maybe it’s a Dion type of player or something. I just want to come in and just be who I am. I’m not afraid of any moment. If it’s fourth quarter time, I know what to do and that’s play the game of basketball. That’s all you do. You go out there and play your game, and you use your teammates and you go from there. If I’m in that position on this team, I’ll try to deliver as I have before and if I don’t, sorry.”
* What was reaction from Heat teammates?: “Well, I’ll tell you one thing, [Hassan Whiteside] definitely put the pressure on me to throw him a lob. If I don’t throw him a lob early at some point, I’m in trouble. I saw his Instagram post. But I definitely think UD, it’s something that he talked to me about last year in Chicago when he came to my house when we were playing. Miami, he talked to me about. He’s continued to talk to me about it. It’s something that we obviously both had conversations about way before I left that we wanted to end our careers playing together. So I think the toughest guy on the team is the happiest that I’m here. But all teammates coming in, it was great to see them all. I told coach yesterday when I talked to him, I feel like I know these guys. I feel like I’m a part of this team already. When we played him, just the love that everyone always showed me before or after games and so forth. Coming back to Miami in the summer, seeing these guys around and spending time with them. That transition right there was pretty seamless for me coming in today.”