Saturday, March 26, 2011
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James at match
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Dwyane Wade and LeBron James tried a different sort of courtside view on Saturday night.
The Miami Heat stars showed up at the Sony Ericsson Open to be part of a coin toss before world No. 1 Rafael Nadal played against Japan's Kei Nishikori. Wade's two sons, Zaire -- the actual flipper of the coin -- and Zion, were there as well, on the court for handshakes from Nadal and a quick photo or two just before the match.
"There's certain things in Miami that guys should experience," Wade said. "So I had to drag LeBron out here, but I think this is something he'll probably come back to next year and come back for years after that. This is a good experience. It's something different and it's a great day off, getting over here with the kids."
Wade's sons were handed oversized tennis balls as they entered the stadium, and immediately, they started dribbling them like basketballs.
"Anything that bounces, they're good to go," Wade said.
The group got a loud ovation as they entered the court, which was rapidly filling because of Nadal's overwhelming star power in South Florida.
Even James -- whose tennis game is, by his own acknowledgment, "terrible" -- was eager to watch and take a break from the grind of getting ready for the NBA playoffs, which begin in about three weeks.
"I'm just a huge fan of sports, from women's basketball to baseball to football to tennis," James said. "I just respect all the sports and what they do and how they work their craft and try to become great. I think we're all one. You talk about sport, we're all one even though we play different sports, and I respect that."
Wade has been to the tournament before, and it's not uncommon for tennis players to show up for Heat games -- Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki were courtside spectators Friday night to see Miami beat Philadelphia, and plenty of other players have stopped by at times over the years, especially in the weeks corresponding with the tournament at Key Biscayne.
And Heat forward Chris Bosh took part in a coin toss before play at Key Biscayne on Thursday night, even getting serenaded by the crowd with a round of "Happy Birthday."
But for James, this was something different.
He's been photographed out-and-about socially on several occasions since coming to Miami last year, but something like this -- with thousands watching him away from the court -- is a relatively new experience in the two-time reigning NBA MVP's tenure with the Heat.
"I get out, but I love relaxation. I like to chill," James said. "And this is relaxation. I kind of pick and choose when I want to get out and when I don't."
He was completely at ease on Key Biscayne on Saturday, just as Wade said he would be.
"Getting over here is always great," Wade said.