Photo by Jeff Vorva
Dwyane Wade had some fun at one of his south suburban camps in 2011. He is scheduled to return to the area as a member of the Bulls.
Those who remember former Richards High School standout Dwyane Wade as a shy teenager might be a little surprised that he is not a very shy 34-year-old as he has done several fashion ads for high-level suit makers throughout his career and shed those clothes this year to appear in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, which came out in June.
Dwyane Wade in the buff? Even he would have never predicted that when he roamed the halls at the Oak Lawn school.
“I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged,” he told the magazine. “So to me, overcoming that is the biggest thing. Someone may look at me and think ‘why would you have insecurity?’ Well, this is real life and I’m human and these are the things I deal with that many others might deal with.
“When I was young, my belly button was an outie and I never even wanted to take my shirt off when we were at the swimming pool or outside during water fights. The only people who went into the pool with their shirts on were the kids who were overweight – and me. Even when I went to high school, I didn’t want to do swimming class because I didn’t want people to see my feet...and my belly button. I had a doctor write me a note to say I couldn’t do swimming and the first day I sat down and watched everybody else and it just looked so fun.’’
It’s been 16 years since he played at Richards and called a Chicago area team home, but that’s about to change.
He verbally agreed to a two-year, $47.5 million deal with the Bulls.
As of noon Tuesday, an official announcement wasn’t made but a lot of signs pointed to that happening this week.
On dwayewade.com, he wrote a goodbye to Miami, where he spent all 13 previous years of his NBA career saying “I never dreamed than an NBA career could have even been possible and that one day I would wear a Chicago Bulls jersey.
“Watching the Bulls growing up inspired me at an early age to pursue my dream of becoming a basketball player. Many of my family members still live in Chicago and I am excited to return to a city very close to my heart.”
So much has changed in Wade's life between his senior year at Richards and his agreeing to become a Bull.
In the closing days of 1999, the brand-spankin’ new facility on the campus of St. Xavier University, the Shannon Convocation and Athletic Center, hosted a Christmas basketball tournament that opened a lot of people’s eyes about Wade.
While he was a local treasure around these parts, he picked up some huge attention in the Chicago area and around the state when the Richards High School star burned Tilden for 48 points in one game and followed it up with a 41-point, seven-steal and seven-blocked shot effort against Steinmetz.
Some people were just getting used to the unusual spelling of his first name, as the more traditional “Dwayne” was being used instead back then. Even this newspaper got it wrong after his scoring outburst.
“It mattered to me at first,” he told the Reporter/Regional in March, 2000 when he was named the Boys Basketball Player of the Year. “But I figured ‘oh, well, they’ll get it right sometime.’ ’’
A lot of time has passed since those days. He went to Marquette and became an NBA superstar with the Miami Heat even though coming out of college, some experts thought the 6-foot-4 Wade would either be too big for a guard or too small for a forward. In Oak Lawn, the Richards gym was remodeled and the court was named after him. While he couldn’t make it to the dedication in March (he was featured via satellite), Kanye West and Jennifer Hudson performed at the pep rally.
He went on to win three NBA titles and went to 12 NBA all-star games.
And people are still having trouble with that name. It was revealed Monday that his shoe sponsor, Li-Ning, put together an advertisement that spelled his first name “Dwayne”
He’s played 855 regular season games and scored 20,221 points, hauled down 4,126 rebounds, recorded 4,944 assists, 759 blocks and 1,414 steals in 30,560 minutes of work.
With newly acquired Rajon Rondo and established scoring threat Jimmy Butler and Wade, the Bulls will be interesting. Perhaps not a title team but certainly one that will give the elite teams fits.
Does Wade have anything left in the tank?
He thinks so.
“I’m not finished nor am I done!!!” he tweeted last week. “I am ready and I’m excited for this next chapter in my life.’’