Thursday, November 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am  |  57 responses

SLAM 164: On Sale Now!

Is Dwyane Wade still the Heat’s most important player?

words by Tzvi Twersky | photos by Tom Medvedich


Why, you may be asking, is Dwyane Wade, the third-leading scorer on the Miami Heat, on the cover of SLAM 164. Why, you may be asking, is Wade, whose overall stats are at post-rookie year lows, on a cover usually reserved for star players on the come up?

The answer is simple: Dwyane Wade and his “mediocre” numbers are the reason that the Miami Heat has evolved from Champions-in-theory to actual Champions.

If only people understood.

“I know everyone has an opinion and everyone has a right to exercise that opinion,” Wade told me at a late-October photoshoot. “It just sucks that people don’t really understand the reasoning why. When we got together the first year, I averaged 25, LeBron averaged 26 and it doesn’t work. Everybody was talking about, ‘Well, they have to find a way to make it work.’ Then when we find a way to make it work, and everyone talks about this and that. They don’t really understand.”

They don’t understand the finite difference between losing in the 2011 Finals to the Dallas Mavericks and winning in 2012 against the Oklahoma City Thunder was some nuanced and inspired coaching by Erik Spoelstra. That it was mostly due in large part to Wade graciously handing over the ball and keys of the team to one of his best friends.

“He had the humility to take a step back to allow LeBron James to become the greatest player in the world,” says David Fizdale, an on-the-rise assistant coach with the Heat. “If he would have kept competing at the level he was competing at to show who he was, LeBron would have never developed to that. That’s the reality of it.”

What Wade and his coach are saying without actually verbalizing it is not obvious to the average fan. They’re saying, in essence, that while LeBron made the Decision that brought championship expectations to Miami in 2010, Dwyane made the decision that ultimately brought the championship to Miami in 2012.

“He’s like,” Lisa Joseph, Wade’s business manager, says of Dwyane’s mindset, “‘I’ll get all the accolades at the end of my career. I’ve won a gold medal; I’ve got a ring; I know what this feels like and I want it again and I’m not going to be able to do it on my own. So I don’t have a problem taking that step back.’”

Taking a step back, in this case, meant helping the Heat taking a step forward. Meant earning the cover of SLAM 164.

While you can read my full cover story on Wade in the magazine (This is NOT the actual story in the mag—Ed.), there was lot of stuff that I had to cut out of the story due to spatial constraints. With that in mind, here are a few noteworthy DWade items that you won’t necessarily find in the magazine:

•As much as everyone says that the teaming up of Dwyane, LeBron and Chrish Bosh was years in the making—and as much as it was—Wade is quick to point out that at 22 or even 25 he would not have been mature enough to swallow his pride and play with those guys.

“It’s all evolution; it’s all growth,” says Wade. “When I was young there’s no way I could’ve played with these guys. I was in competition with Bron and Melo (Anthony) and those guys. You get to a point where that doesn’t matter the same. We all competitors, but that same ‘I’ve got to make a name for myself thing’ goes away after a while. You understand there’s a bigger picture.”

•For that matter, according to Joseph, Wade would not have been able to align himself with a brand like Li-Ning a few years ago. He wouldn’t have had the junk to make such a bold marketing move. As we all know though, as of this summer, Wade is now the face of Li-Ning, and hopes to take the shoe and apparel company to new heights nationally and internationally.

“He’s always thinking about the bigger picture now,” says Joseph. “This Li-Ning deal, let’s be real about it, most guys of his caliber would hear Li-Ning and walk away. Dwyane was like, ‘Hold on; let’s think about this. Does this make sense? What would this mean for my brand? What does this mean for the game of basketball? Is this a risk?’ We’ve had  countless conversations about this. It’s a huge risk for him. But it’s a risk that he was willing to take because he knew that in order to blaze a trail you have to be the first one to step out there. That would not have happened, obviously, nine years ago.”

•Despite somewhat declining stats and the toll taken by myriad injuries, Wade still firmly believes that he could be one of the top scorers in the League. He just understands that, after leading the L in scoring in 2008-09, it’s just not that important.

“I mean, if you put greatness on scoring, than that’s just you don’t know sports,” say Wade. “I could go out there and shoot enough shots where I could average 26-plus a game, but that’s just not the [recipe] for winning, especially with the team I have. If I didn’t have this team and I’m the only individual on this team, I could go out there and be top-three in the League in scoring—and go home early. It’s just not what I want.”

•It wasn’t just a simple dream-like epiphany that turned Wade into a wise 30-year-old, that turned him into a we-first instead of me-first player and person. It was, rather, the lowest moments of his life that helped him flip a 90, if not 180.

“Getting divorced and going through a lawsuit at the same time at the age of 25,” says Wade. “Being in court a lot, you just look in the mirror and look at your life and know that you’ve got to do things better and make better decisions. That was the toughest time for me personally, going through all that, not having my kids around, it was tough. There were a lot of lonely, lonely moments in my life at that time, and no one around me can know what I was dealing with, can know what I felt, can know what I was going through. At that point, going through that, I kind of matured and kind of grew.”

•Immediately after the summer of 2010, people tried qualifying the Heat as Lebron’s team or Dwyane’s team. For his part, Wade has never seen it that way.

“It’s not my team,” says Wade. “It’s not LeBron’s team; it’s not Chris Bosh’s team; it’s Micky Arison’s team, that’s whose team it is (laughs). We play on his team and we’re teammates together. We can’t win without each other. LeBron James can’t be LeBron James without me and the team and vice versa.”

Again, for the complete, actual DWade story be sure to pick up SLAM 164.

And as always, the cover story is just the tip of the iceberg. One of the most thorough issues in a while, in spite of Sandy keeping us out of the SLAM Dome for a week, SLAM 164 stars Michael Beasley (will he ever become the star he was once projected to be?), Gerald Green (who’s tired of talking about dunking), Jonas Jerebko (who apparently has haters in Sweden), Brandon Roy (who, despite the pain it causes him, loves the game too much to just give it up), Tony Mitchell (the best player in college you’ve never heard of), Allen Iverson (as popular as ever), Bobby Dandridge (old school!), Noah Vonleh (get familiar!) and much more.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , ,

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Love it!

  • JML-G

    DWade been my favorite player since his rookie season and im extremely glad SLAM shows him love, but i cant help to wonder – how come we still dont have a cover with the Heatles together (Lebron, Wade & Bosh)!??!?

  • Jesse

    This is a really great angle for a story. Can’t wait to read!

  • http://twitter.com/ReeseReport Maurice Bobb™

    Another dope cover

  • Ryan

    Do y’all have any idea how sick to death people are of Dwyane Wade? I guess not if you’re running with him on the cover. Let me state my case.

    I used to like Wade because he went hard all the time and earned every free throw. Then in 2006 he and the refs won the title for Miami with a number of questionable calls and that made me throw up in my mouth. Then the Heat were terrible and Wade was mostly irrelevant. Then the whole LeBron-Dwyane-Chris thing hit and it was fugly.

    But it got worse because while LeBron developed his game and improved and Chris Bosh did the same without much exposure the guy we used to love for going hard and earning ‘em started playing like a soft punk. Running into guys, flailing his arms and screaming like a little girl and getting away with it. Off the court there were excuses about him being injured, shots of him in skinny jeans just look plain stupid, constant talk about how he’s so mature and such a great father (what with the book and all)…

    Like I said, sick to death. What happened to the kid who was tight with Caron Butler and rocked Converse? I miss that kid and I can’t stand this mfer.

  • dat dude

    The Heat are just fine without D Wade…

  • RedDragon10

    Explains why the won the ring without him last year…oh wait.

  • JML-G

    boy, why are you reffering to yourself as ‘people’!?

  • ian

    Your an idiot. .. you sound like a total envious douche bag. I mean really…

  • ian

    Your an idiot. .. you sound like a total envious douche bag. I mean really…

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Excellent cover story and issue. And as Tzvi points out, there’s a little something of everything in 164!

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Excellent cover story and issue. And as Tzvi points out, there’s a little something of everything in 164!

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    In pleasantly Suprised at this choice of cover

  • Junior Taylor

    make that CB1

  • jdote

    Love D-Wade and he’s great without a doubt. And I’ve listened to plenty of interviews where he’s talked about the sacrifices he’s made, which is cool. But since he is great he has to come through when it’s needed. He can’t go scoreless in a playoff game overtime when Lebron’s on the bench. He can’t get ripped by Thabo in the waning moments of the game. He’s got to show flashes, and 9/10 he does. But when he doesn’t he deserves criticism just like Bron deserves criticism when he’s off.

  • kboo

    you mad bro?

  • LakeShow

    I’ll refrain.
    Nice cover.

  • Max

    Tony Mitchell getting some love I see.

  • Vinsanity

    Is he the most important player on the Heat?!?! LOL does that even make sense??? NOOO. NOT EVEN CLOSE!!

  • Peter Walsh

    Nice work, Tzvi. DWade is the man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    Agreed. He’s completely abandoned the character I grew to like. Still, though, he’s a winner, and deserved respect for that. Dope cover.

  • Flash

    Been a while since i bought some. I’m definitely buying this one. Thanks for showing my main man some love SLAM.

  • gab

    Big Smile on my face : D

  • ScrewT

    I was hoping for a James Harden cover.. A Rockets player hasn’t been on a cover since T-Mac was traded here..

  • RedDragon10

    Even if they replace him and get better, that means nothing. Lebron’s
    cavs had win percentages in .750 range. Compared to the heat’s win
    percentage, the cav’s blow them out of the water. But Lebron never got
    passed the hump without a respectable supporting cast. Mo williams and
    anderson varejao got lebron more wins but Wade has the ability to kick
    it up a notch when Lebron begins to struggle. This is what saved the
    heat from being blown out of the water against the mavs in the finals 2
    years ago (even though they still lost) and helped them pass the pacers
    last year. Wade is still a top 10 player in the league when need be.
    I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything but I lol’ed when you said
    replace steph curry with wade. Wade is injury-proned but curry is

  • Pingback: Dwyane Wade Rocks Li-Ning Way of Wade On The Cover of SLAM | Sneaker Bar Detroit

  • logues

    i like the cover but why do ppl always over analyze who a team’s most important player is and think about it like its a freakin math equation… the most important player on a team is always your best player and saying otherwise is just dumb

  • Caboose

    That left arm is a tad overshopped. And try to justify it all you want, Wade shouldn’t be on a cover right now. Is Amare the next cover?

  • Bored

    first Spoelstra says Bosh is the most important and now SLAM says Wade is the most important. i guess LBJ is just a role player these days.

  • Dat Dude

    eeeveryone knows there was more to the Cavs bowing out of the playoffs in 2009 than Lebron needing a better supporting cast (Delonte West *cough cough*). I mean, they were KILLING the Celtics…and then THAT happened. Again, is Wade better than Curry? Yeah (Although honestly not that much better anymore); but look at the Lakers. All the talent and yet so many struggles. It’s all about the FIT. In my humble opinion, Curry would be a better FIT–especially considering the age disparity. But, yeah, it’s debatable. The main point I am mainly getting at–if Wade wasn’t on the Heat, and even if you replaced him with, say, J.R. Smith or Nick Young–the Heat would be totally fine, and absolutely the best team in the East if not the entire NBA.

  • Ryan

    He was cool as hell but now I’m sick of the guy. The only thing I respect him for now is his defensive effort which is a little bit underrated.

    @2209a20696ebc861caaf8351e3471958:disqus not mad at all just disappointed in Wade and Slam. There are better stories to cover.

    @10b87618aa052ef28f89efec1e14d22f:disqus You didn’t say one thing of substance in your comment so who is the idiot here?

    @6eea4ac3d19765f8d2dca1de8771a13d:disqus I’m not a boy. And when I talk about people I’m talking about the folks I generally talk ‘ball with. Most of them used to at least respect Wade not a one of them still does.

  • Datkid

    it would be a better OFFENSIVE fit. but their defense would take a major hit. as would their transition game. plus curry is actually injured a lot more than wade

  • WadeisOverrated

    Wade is SOOO OVERRATED and all the magazine covers in the world won’t convince us that he’s the “most important”. Let me tell you, Wade isn’t even the THIRD most important player on his team. Obviously LEBRON is the BEST player and the LEADER so without him, you win NOTHING. Bosh has become a RELIABLE 2nd option who doesnt sit out with soft injuries like Wade, and RAY Allen is the shooting guard who can..wait for it, ACTUALLY SHOOT the ball. Wade is WORTHLESS, he’s a washed up, no good, 30 year old declining SG. He’s NOT important to the team anymore either. Lebron carried INCONSISTENT, LAZY Wade on HIS BACK in the playoffs and WON a ring. Wade should be KISSING Lebrons feet instead of talking about him “taking a step back”, no Wade you just SUCK. You’re all about athleticism and its FADING FAST.

  • Dat Dude

    Cool. But, like I said, Steph Curry was just an example used to get at the major point–that the Heat would STILL BE FINE without Wade. In other words, they could afford to take a tiny, marginal step back by replacing Wade with a Curry, Smith, or Young; and even then, it’d be debatable if the Heat would even be worse. Wade is BY NO MEANS the Heat’s most important player.

  • david engel

    I think it’s cool that he handed over the reigns. What has not been cool since the heatles formed is his on court demeanour. I see a lot of bullish, unsportsmanlike behaviour and whining wrapped up in an attitude of entitlement.

    Wade mentioned recently regarding a scuffle he had with Rondo that he didn’t escalate things because he has his kids back home looking up to him and watching the game. If that’s the case he has a lot more work to do to make sure he acts like a model athlete on and off the court.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1370311919 Daniela Gonzalez

    At this point, I’d trade Wade for a sandwich. Hell, I’d trade him for
    AIDS. At least with AIDS people would say “you have AIDS? That sucks.”
    But with Wade, there is still the delusion that he is a “superstar.”
    Today, FINALLY, the national media called him out a bit. Reggie Miller
    mocked the fact that he can’t make an open, foul-line jumpshot. As a
    pro, you should be able to. #wadesucksass #wade4sandwich

    All of you being apologetic for Wade: please remind us of our record
    the past two years when this bum is on the bench? That’s right. 17-1


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1370311919 Daniela Gonzalez

    Over the past 2 seasons, we are 17-1 with Wade out. Gotta love them FACTS.

  • RedDragon10

    I love how those games include playoff games. Oh right, they don’t. I also love how you refer to the heat as “we.” Because I know if you weren’t a bandwagon heat fan, you wouldn’t ever insult Wade, the man who’s responsible for your first championship. That record you posted isn’t even correct. Gotta love bandwagoners.

  • ripslam

    Is Dwyane Wade still the Heat’s most important player?

    Answer: No.

  • Nathaniel Zhang

    U obviously haven’t seen how big d wade is

  • Nathaniel Zhang

    you talked about Curry is the better fit and the Lakers’ struggles, it took 2 years for the Big 3 to gel and win a championship, even though they made the finals in the first year, how long is Curry gonna gel with Bosh and Bron, plus if LeBron or Bosh is struggling in a game or playoff game, who are they going to? Ray Allen? he’s a HOF player but right now he can’t create his own shot.

    Miami is built around 3 star players and other complementary players, that is just the way they’re made the team, and right now, they have succeed with 2 finals appearance and 1 ring.

    You also said you don’t like d wade anymore because he’s not as dominant player as before, maybe because Lebron and Bosh are sharing the scoring load?

    Bottom line, when d wde retire he will be remembered as a Winner

  • Nathaniel Zhang

    I been watching every game the heat played and I don’t see the bullish, unsportsmanlike behaviour, plus the Rondo incident they were just talking smack.

    And Rondo’s sportsmanship is questionable just from the recent Kris Humphries incident, and tossing the ball to the ref from last season, he has been banned from both incident

  • Flynn

    Although this is the most vibrant and refreshing DWade cover yet, I simply have no idea why I’m looking at this. I’d like to see you guys diversify it, give me Harden or something, something new

  • roger

    I’m kind of with you…I used to live in Miami when all the Heat madness was beginning to take place. He was cool back then.

    He’s a great athlete, but he’s become a smug d-bag. He’s like the Kanye West of the NBA. Then again…he’s on the same team with the King Of All Douchebags, Lebron.

  • Caboose

    Oh I know he’s big, but his arm is NOT that smooth. It’s a simple edit, just reduce sharpness. Makes skin look better. The opposite was done with Jordan on SLAM 139, sharpness was enhanced.


    ur stupid af caboose what do you know about dwyane wade? hes one of the best in the NBA

  • ChanChan

    Could not have agreed any better. Any fan that suggest Wade to be traded is no fan. I don’t care if Wade scores 5 points a game next season. Wade has earned his place to retire in Miami if he chooses too. Miami would (or shouldn’t at least) never risk a trade involving Wade as every loyal fan base would be furious.

  • The Captain

    Got my copy in the mail the other day and Harrison Barnes’ name is on the cover. Being from Oakland, I was excited to open it up and see that nasty dunk Ba
    rnes had in Slamadamonth….. Seems like you all made a printing mistake.

  • The Captain

    Always excited to see my copy of the best magazine in the world in my mailbox. Got it the other day and being from Oakland, I was lit up when I saw Harrison Barnes’ name on the cover. I excitedly opened it up to see that NASTY dunk Barnes had in Slamadamonth!
    Guess you guys made a printing mistake….

  • nate_23

    do you mean underrated?

    because of all his clutch plays and performances in 2009

    he didn’t won the MVP where in that year he averaged more points, blocks, assists and steals against Kobe and Bron

    like what i saw in a comment on youtube:

    without Kobe the Lakers are a playoff team

    without LeBron the cavs are decent (2009)

    without Dwyane Wade the Heat won’t win a game

    it’s proven when the Heat recorded the worst record in NBA history during Wade’s absence (82 games) 15–67

    Cavs without LeBron is 19-63 and they are emerging this year especially with Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters

  • nate_23

    he may not be the most important but he is still important as Spoelstra said “He brings maturity and leadership to this team and his defensive prowess makes him special”

  • str8 from samoa

    obviously u didnt know that he is tensing haha

  • Jose

    Wade obviously has aged a bit and may not entirely be the Flash he was a couple years ago, that doesn’t means he’s washed up at all. We’re talking about the guy who turned it on in 06 to come back and get the chip from dallas the first time, the guy who pretty much carried his team in 60-07 to a 44-38 record, and he was humble enough to put himself aside in the spotlight to let LBJ and bosh thrive in order to win the chip. . . .He’s an amazing player and to trade him would be a slap in the face to Miami fans (unless its the bandwagon Miami fans who arrived after the Decision). . .

  • King David

    yup a winner unlike lebron

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    You’re*** the idiot here, man.

  • Ham

    Obviously some of y’all are just spectators and not real hoopers. Wade is top the top shooting guard in this league with kobe 2nd. You guys just base stuff off of who averages 30 but wade is shooting 50% on season i think around 20pts a game always gets 100 blocks a season gets steals rebounds hard and shuts down whoever he is guarding. Honestly and be real who can you name at shooting guard who does all that? I can shoot the ball 30 times and avg. 25 in the league bc most nba guys don’t defend till playoffs anyway!!

  • Pingback: Dwyane Wade Covers SLAM in Li-Ning Way of Wade | NiceKicks.com