Tom Brady shocked many in the football world when he left the New England Patriots and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A 14-time NFL Pro Bowler, Brady won six Super Bowl rings as a member of the Patriots and was named MVP four times.
How does one leave and start over? Think Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in 2016.
“When you really think about Dwayne Wade’s situation, it was the one thing,” Antoine Walker told me on Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“Dwyane wanted to be taken care of.
“He wanted a Kobe Bryant deal.
“I think Kobe’s was 2 years for $50 Million or $60 Million or something like that kind of towards the end and Pat Riley was NOT willing to give that to him and that’s what made Dwayne Wade leave; because he wanted to get rewarded for the things that he’s done there for all the years he played.”
Wade became the NBA’s elderstatesman the second after Kobe Bryant scored 60 points on the Utah Jazz and said: “Mamba out.”
While Kobe Bryant played the last game of his career Wednesday night, dropping 60 points in a win over the Utah Jazz, ya gotta wonder: Aside from Tim Duncan, who is the living legend of the NBA?
But it didn’t happen that way.
The fifth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft coming out of Marquette, Wade left the Heat in 2016 for the Chicago Bulls for a two-year contract in excess of the $40 million offered over that span by the Heat.
The irony is that the Dallas Mavericks gave Dirk Nowitzki all the money the team could without going into the luxury tax. That totaled out to $25 million in the first season, with a team option for $25 million in 2017-18.
In an interview with Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban in 2016, Cuban shared with that Nowitzki said one number and Cuban went higher. Eventually, the contract was for even more than what they agreed on. “Dirk wasn’t even in the country and people couldn’t even reach him when free agency started,” Cuban told me.
“I basically told him, look, you tell me the price and it actually started lower. His agent said, ‘How about this much?’ and we said, ‘We’ll have a little more money, we’ll give you more,’ and as the numbers started getting bigger and bigger, it was like, ‘What about this number? We’ll give you more.’ Finally, it was like, ‘This is what we got left, take it!’
According to ESPN, Wade agreed to forego approximately $8 million of the $23.8 million he otherwise would have received from his hometown Chicago Bulls that season.
Post-Miami, Wade lived his best life though. After playing for the Bulls, he again teaming up with his friend, LeBron James out in Cleveland during James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Woth noting: Back in 2016, Heat President Pat Riley admitted to have had “great regret” about losing Wade. Riley also expressed that he should have done more to show Wade the team wanted him back.
While Wade found his way back to the Heat via trade in 2018, Wade and Riley had to first repair their strained elationship.
In fact, it took a funeral to mend fences. “It’s interesting,” recounts Antoine Walker.
“Hank Thomas is the agent of Dwayne Wade and he passed away and Pat Riley has obviously had dealt with him over the years and came to the funeral as well. And they got their friendship back together at this funeral and they got an opportunity to talk it out and apologize and those guys ended up making up and Dwayne ended up eventually working his way back to Miami”
Wade was never Miami’s highest paid player. But he got results. He was a member of all three of the Heat’s NBA Championship teams. We’re talking Wade with Shaquille O’Neal and Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Wade came back to Miami for the last two years of his career and it is like he never left. “The red carpet was laid out for D-Wade,” said Antoine Walker.
“And I think Pat Riley was trying to make means of doing right by Dwayne Wade on his way out the door the first time.”