Joking in presentation but serious in intent, Dwyane Wade sat patiently with Bulls GM Gar Forman, refusing to start his introductory news conference until his wife, Gabrielle Union, arrived for the proceedings.
After 13 years of waiting, and then a couple weeks after formally agreeing to join the Chicago Bulls, a few extra moments didn’t feel like an eternity.
For some, Wade was worth the wait.
“Sounds good, doesn’t it?” Forman joked to Wade about announcing him as a Chicago Bull, before going through Wade’s litany of accomplishments, all of which were done in a Miami Heat uniform.
“You make me feel good about myself,” Wade said.
With Jimmy Butler off to the side, Wade made sure to announce that despite his pedigree, his rings, his status as a Hall-of-Fame player and respected voice through the NBA that this team isn’t his; He first mentioned owner Jerry Reinsdorf, then Butler, stopping any controversy before it could develop.
“We’re not gonna go through this all year. It’s Jimmy Butler’s team,” Wade said. “He’s a young Bull who can play 40 minutes. I ain’t trying to do all that.”
It makes Forman’s opening statement about Wade that much more poignant, aside from the 20 points and on-floor savvy Wade will likely provide to a young Bulls team and inexperienced coach.
“As important and maybe more so, the presence and intangibles Dwyane will bring to this organization and this team,” Forman said. “From the locker room to the floor to how he interacts with his teammates…it’ll serve our team well.”
Wade has gone through the city in recent days after his trip from China, readjusting himself to Chicago.
“This is one of those moments for me, that is a dream come true,” Wade said. “It took a long time to get here. But I’m here. The excitement the city has shown, I can’t tell what you’ve meant to me.”
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It was a long and winding road as Wade said “let’s take a trip down memory lane”, recalling the belief he thought he would be drafted by the Bulls in 2003 when they held the seventh pick.
The Miami Heat had other plans.
Then when Wade hit unrestricted free agency in 2010, he had another two meetings with the Bulls and seriously considered them.
“Prime of my career. My first meeting was back home,” Wade said. “I met with a few teams, met with the Bulls twice.”
“It was a place I was really pulled toward. I had the opportunity to play with two good players, LeBron (James) and Chris (Bosh).”
The Bulls weren’t able to lure Bosh and James to Chicago, so the thought of being a Bull went as far as a deleted picture on his camera that showed him in a Bulls uniform—before he realized deleted pictures could be obtained through a cloud.
The third time was the charm, as the Bulls presented themselves as a reasonable option when talks broke down between Wade and the Heat early in free agency, creating arguably the biggest personnel surprise of the offseason—and a curious marriage of a player who still has enough game to be effective with a team struggling to claim a new identity on the fly as opposed to hitting the reset button.
“I still have a little bit left,” Wade said. “I wanted to come here and be a part of building this organization back up and where it should be.”