|Heat guard Dwyane Wade's writing reveals what basketball truly means to him|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 14:55|
They were the innermost thoughts of the Miami Heat's star guard, quickly typed into his e-mail device during a private moment in a New York hotel room this summer, all off the top of his head.
No editing, no revising, no concerns about spelling or punctuation or grammar.
``You said I needed to become a man and that I counted on you way too much ... so you left me - feeling unsure, unloved and confused,'' Wade wrote, expressing sentiments that he'd carried around for years. ``How could you not love me anymore?''
Some of his relatives and closest confidants soon read what he had typed. And almost everyone had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. A woman? A parent? A friend?
``I wanted people not to know until the end,'' Wade said. ``And then I hit them with it.''
It was his ode to basketball, specifically about the year that helped turn him into a superstar.
And those private words are out in the open now, serving as the inspiration for his latest Converse commercial, which will be released nationwide Sunday during the broadcast of the Dolphins-Giants game being played in London.
``People are going to think I didn't write it at first,'' Wade said. ``But they'll eventually understand that it's all me.''
Wade has dabbled in writing for about as long as he can remember.
He's penned the occasional poem and kept a journal in his college days at Marquette. He even was a sports writer for his high school newspaper, reporting on his own basketball team a few times.
``I spelled my name right,'' he said, ``and I was about the only one who did.''
He always understood the importance of school, but didn't qualify academically to play his freshman season at Marquette. So he played no games in the 2000-01 campaign there, only being allowed to practice.
``There's no doubt that he got inspired and fired up and worked,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ``There's no doubt that year helped him get to where he is today.''
That year, Wade said, was pure agony.
``It shaped him,'' said Tom Crean, his coach at Marquette. ``It made him appreciate everything so much more as time went on and made him focus so much better, because now, he had to deal with the fact that there was nothing compared to basketball when it came to having glory and having so much success.''
Crean has nothing but the highest praise for Wade, and cringes when recalling what happened when he saw stories suggesting that the guard from Robbins, Ill., couldn't handle college academically.
``One of the top anger moments in my life is when an article came out that questioned him academically and how much he struggled,'' Crean said. ``I'll never forget that because it was so wrong. He did so well here. He never struggled here. He was always flourishing here.''
And that was the case for one simple reason: Basketball depended on it.
The commercial doesn't have much dialogue, and doesn't need it.
It begins with the arena dark and Wade walking through a hallway. He darts through the tunnel the Heat use to take the floor at home games, tapping his hand twice against a photo that's part of a collage of championship moments from those 2006 finals against Dallas, the series he dominated to win MVP honors.
He's in workout gear, trots onto the hardwood and begins to skip around. There is no ball and no one else in the building. He heads to the top of the key and pantomimes the act of taking one jump shot, then another before hopping around in a tight circle and looking toward the empty seats.
The message is simple: He's simply overjoyed to be on the floor.
``You were the one that understood me - but I knew deep down inside you were gonna come back to me,'' Wade wrote. ``So I practiced on ways that I could love you more, and for you to never leave me again. And then 2001-2002 came ... you said the words that I've always dreamed of hearing...''
He now heads up the steps of the arena, takes his seat in a press box high above the court and flips on a microphone, intense look on his face, and delivers the only words in the spot.
``From Robbins, Illinois, 6-foot-4 guard Dwyane Wade.''
That's how he was introduced at Marquette in the 2001-02 season, his first one back in the game.
Wade is sitting on a couch in a dressing room at the arena now, taking a break from filming the commercial. Someone has brought in Chinese food for lunch. A trainer is massaging his calf, and Wade decides the time is right to talk about how the ode went from thoughts to text.
``My brother wrote something about basketball and I liked it. It was nice,'' Wade said. ``So I said, 'I'm going to go in my room and write something.' And I wound up writing about my year without basketball, one of the biggest years in my life.''
Some people suspected the letter was about last season, when he missed much of latter portions with a dislocated shoulder and wasn't healthy enough to be a major factor in the postseason that saw Miami swept out of the first round by the Chicago Bulls.
It had nothing to do with that.
Sure, losing the NBA title hurt, but nothing like that year away from the game. And now, seven years later, Wade is no longer shy about holding his feelings back about that point in his life.
``The year I couldn't play, it hurt my pride,'' Wade said. ``It hurt me to watch my team go through a 15-14 season without me. I wanted to prove myself and why I went to Marquette, when a lot of people didn't know where it even was. For a year, I was forgotten. And I don't ever want to be forgotten again.''