The majority of the public, including players and coaches across the NBA, found out of Kobe Bryant’s retirement plans on Sunday when they read the poem he penned bidding farewell to the game of basketball.
How Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade found out was a bit more out of the ordinary.
Tuesday, Nov. 10, was pretty ho-hum for Wade. He dropped by the Heat’s facility to get a soak in the cold tub before playing the Los Angeles Lakers that night, and walked through the locker room door like he’s done countless times during his 13-year career.
Then, surprise! There was Kobe, sitting inside the Heat’s locker room, in the cold tub. The two chatted, and Bryant told Wade to make sure his family made it to the game, because it was likely his last visit to Miami for his career.
NBA on TNT reporter Rachel Nichols shared the story on Thursday:
Here's the Kobe story Dwyane Wade told me: This was last month, the night before the Heat hosted the Lakers here in Miami. Wade decided to stop by the arena and get in a soak in the cold tub. He goes through the Heat's locker room area, back over to the training room, and who is already just sitting there in the tub…Kobe Bryant. Wade told me in the 13 years he’s played for the Heat, he’s never ever seen Pat Riley let an opposing player into the inner sanctum like that, using the team’s facilities, and that frankly, he was shocked. Of course, that's the respect that Kobe has earned, and the two old friends had a great, long talk. At the end of it, Kobe asked Dwyane if his sons were coming to the game the next night. Dwyane said no, as it was a school night, and Kobe said, 'you know what, bring them, I think it’s going to be my last time here.' Dwyane brought the boys, they got a lifetime memory after the game taking pictures with Kobe, and the Wade family got a little sneak-preview of Kobe's retirement announcement before anyone else.
This is something that only the savvy, stealthy Kobe Bryant would do. It was nice of him to ensure that Wade’s children see him one last time, too.
Kobe didn’t play that night, taking a page out Wade’s veteran playbook.
- Kenny Ducey