Dwyane Wade wanted there to be no doubt whatsoever.
"This is Jimmy Butler’s team."
Taking a cue from former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Wade told reporters Friday during his introductory press conference — after a matter-of-fact joke that the Bulls' are Jerry Reinsdorf's team — that Butler is the leader of this Bulls squad, and his intent was to get that out of the way early and avoid a season-long controversy.
"We're not going to go through this all year. This is Jimmy Butler's team," Wade said. "Myself and (Rajon) Rondo are here to bring what we bring as athletes to this team and to this city. (Butler's) a young bull on this team. He's a 26-year-old that can play 40 minutes a game if coach wants him to and maybe more. I ain't trying to do all that. And we're going to depend on him a lot.
"This is a guy I've known since Marquette University, that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. And as much as Gar (Forman) and John Paxson and everyone did an amazing job of making sure this could happen, this wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler called me and told me he wanted me here, and that was huge because at the time I didn't know. At the time, hometown kid, Derrick Rose, here and he leaves. (Joakim) Noah who's very known here leaves. It's now Jimmy's team. So to want to bring in a guy like myself and Rondo, it shows what he's about. He's about winning.
"It won't be a tug and pull of whose team it is. We're all playing together. We all have one common goal, and that's to win. Jimmy's going to be Jimmy Butler, and I think he's going to grow and be a better ballplayer because of what Rondo brings to the game and because of what I bring."
Wade is one of two multi-time All Stars to join the Bulls this season, arriving in Chicago with Rondo to play alongside Butler on a new-look Bulls team. All that veteran star power — as well as past discussions over the topic involving Butler and former Bulls guard Derrick Rose — prompted the question.
Wade had an answer ready to go.
And the inspiration for Friday’s proclamation came a decade earlier, when O’Neal teamed with Wade in Miami following his three championship wins with the Lakers.
"It's funny to be sitting in this seat," Wade said. "I remember when Shaquille O'Neal came to Miami, coming from the Lakers, three championships. He came to Miami, and we had no championships at the time. And I remember his press conference. I was playing in the Olympics at the time, like Jimmy is right now. And I remember Shaq said, 'We're not going to go through this all year. It's Dwyane Wade's team.'"
Wade has been on superstar-laden rosters before, not only winning a title with O'Neal but also winning a pair of championships alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami, so he's used to this type of environment.
"I can't come into this situation thinking it's going to be the same as when me, Chris and LeBron played together. It's a different situation," Wade said. "I'm excited about playing with two guys I respect as competitors first. ... We'll learn what we need to do, just like we did in Miami, we learned what we needed to do.
"I think the only parallel from that is I've played in my career with other guys that are alphas. ... We have three strong personalities, we have three leaders."