Dwyane Wade not ruling out Europe
DAVIE, Fla. -- There are 600 kids spending this week with Dwyane Wade at his basketball camp outside of Ft. Lauderdale. A similar-sized group was part of another of his camps last week outside of Chicago.
Most of them can't begin to understand the dynamics of the NBA lockout -- like most adult fans for that matter -- and none of them want to think much about it.
In his question-and-answer sessions with the campers, Wade has gotten some interesting ones. Like, "Is it hard to play basketball?" There was one about Wade's girlfriend, actress/model Gabrielle Union. And then there was the youngster that asked Wade: "Was LeBron too selfish?"
That pretty much runs the gamut, no? But Wade -- who moves through the day's activities with a constant smile and good cheer while letting the kids win in drills -- said there hasn't been a single camper query about the lockout.
"No lockout questions at all," Wade said. "It's sensitive to me and they're staying away from it."
Ironically, that's how the majority of the NBA players seem to be treating the lockout in its infancy. Right now the league is on vacation, unpaid or not, and if this work stoppage is stinging, it isn't registering much. Plenty of highly-paid stars missed their July balloon payments called for in their contracts, but it has been hard to detect much strife as of yet.
While many of Wade's peers have been posting pictures on their Twitter accounts of themselves "planking" on the hoods of their Bentleys, on the wings of their private jets and in the lobbies of five-star hotels, Wade is excited about an upcoming trip to China.
Wade said he's excited to visit a Nike factory where Brand Jordan signature shoes are produced as part of a tour of China to promote the company.
"I told Brand Jordan I want to go see where the magic happens, I want to go where the sneakers are made," Wade said. "I want to go over and shake the hands of people that made them. Just to show them appreciation for their talents."
Those Nike checks, after all, are still coming. In between leisure trips and workouts at college and high school gyms, the league's superstars are currently making pilgrimage to the world's largest shoe market. Kevin Durant just finished up a trip. Kobe Bryant is on his way. Wade will be there soon. LeBron James is going next month. And numerous other stars, those signed with Reebok and adidas included, will be headed over the Pacific as part of routine summer business.
The conference calls are still taking place and the emails are still going out with the mostly grim updates, but life doesn't seem too disrupted, at least not yet. Especially not after players will be getting $160 million back in salary rebates from the owners this month as the last piece of business from the now defunct collective bargaining agreement. Wade's share from that haul is just over $1.1 million, for example.
The players are half-heartedly doing their part to attempt to scare the owners by threatening to go play overseas eventually. It is pretty clear the union is encouraging the players to at least posture in this direction. After declaring last week on his Twitter account that he had decided against playing overseas, Amare Stoudemire corrected himself on ESPN Radio this week by saying that, perhaps after getting a memo, he was leaving his options open.
Wade seems like he got that message, too. He did his duty Wednesday morning by making sure the brim of his hat was ever so slightly in the Europe ring. Even though at age 29 with a history of injuries, Wade would be risking the $90 million he's still owed by the Heat over the next five years by playing for a fraction of it on a short-term deal elsewhere. That doesn't seem like good business.
"I'm not ruling it out," Wade said, following the lead of numerous stars over the past few weeks. "It's not something you're waking up every day thinking about. At the end of the day, you get that itch as a basketball player where you want to play the game. I have no idea when I'll get that itch."
That's just it -- the itch to play and the itch to get those checks is somewhere over the horizon during this lazy summer. Deron Williams' proactive action of signing with a Turkish team was an eye-opener but it may prove to simply be an outlier. Most stars are content to sit back and wait to see how things play out without a whiff of urgency.
Heck, even rank-and-file players are largely taking this tact. New Mavericks guard Rudy Fernandez, who routinely pined to return to Europe over the past several seasons, recently turned down a historic offer to sign with a Spanish team because even he's in that wait-and-see mode.
At the end of the day, you get that itch as a basketball player where you want to play the game. I have no idea when I'll get that itch.” -- Dwyane Wade on playing overseas.
Several weeks away from even starting serious workouts again, that's where Wade is, too.
"I've got a lot of things I want to accomplish this summer," Wade said. "And I've got a lot of time to do that."
As for that little matter of what happened a month ago for Wade and his Heat teammates, well, that is something that's more on his mind. Wade said he hasn't been able to watch ESPN for weeks because he doesn't want to think about it. He opens talks to campers with jokes about the Finals loss to the Mavericks in a hope to disarm them -- and avoid uncomfortable questions that he doesn't have answers for.
Wednesday, while speaking to the campers about the need to focus, he started with: "I don't know if I should be talking to you all about focus after we blew a 15-point lead in Game 2."
"I make jokes with the kids so they don't ask me any questions (about the Finals)," Wade said. "When they ask a question, they want to know stuff. So I shed some light on it with a sense of humor."
Wade has spent some time with teammates since the Finals defeat, traveling to James' hometown of Akron, Ohio, last week to take part in a different camp for high school and college players. But time hasn't done much to ease the frustration of the Heat blowing large leads late in two the first four games to allow the Mavericks to take control and win the series going away in six games.
More than the lockout or China or where he might consider playing next season, that is something Wade still wakes up thinking about.
"The sting is still there, no question about it," Wade said. "It was a failure for the Miami Heat. It was a failed year for every team except for the Dallas Mavericks. They had the best year. But the things we did aren't erased, we had a darn good year. If we'd won the championship it would've been a pretty amazing year. It wasn't pretty amazing but it was pretty good."
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