By Paul Forrester
March 11, 2013

Almost lost in the attention LeBron James has garnered this season is the fact that Dwyane Wade is putting together yet another devastatingly efficient basketball campaign. During the Heat's 18-game winning streak, Wade is averaging 24.2 points, 5.6 assists and 2.6 steals while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor. He has also kick-started a renewal of his marketing presence, with a new shoe line and an upcoming Gatorade commercial with Peyton Manning and Serena Williams. As part of the campaign, Wade took a few moments to speak with SI about his career, his evolution as a player and the Heat. You are part of a new Gatorade campaign that highlights the legendary moments of some notable athletes. What moment stood out for you?

Dwyane Wade: We called it my lightning bolt moment, and, for me, winning the championship in 2006 was my lightning bolt moment. It was the thing that kind of jump-started my career and really put me in a different conversation. I think Gatorade has done a great job in the commercial of showing, for anyone who forgot or anyone who doesn't know, the invention of the sports drink, and I'm just glad that I could be part of the rich history of Gatorade.

SI: You've seen some different types of teams in Miami over your 10 seasons. How has your game evolved?

Wade: I've done a lot of adapting. When I came into the NBA as a rookie, I was young and just raw talent and I just played off that. Anything I did on the court at that time was looked at as successful.

Then the next phase was getting Shaquille O'Neal, and automatically you're looked at differently in the eyes of everyone -- you have to compete for a championship. So I had to grow up fast as a young player on the court. I had to become a leader, not vocally, but by my actions and my play I had to help lead us to a championship.

Then we lost Shaq and went into a rebuilding phase in Miami. I went through some injuries. I went through some personal issues. But I came back from that and got healthy, went to the [2008] Olympics and led the league in scoring and kind of reinvented the Miami Heat all over again.

Now we're in this phase of the Big 3 era, where we've been able to compete for the championship the last two years and will have an opportunity, hopefully, for many more. I've had to wear a different hat in every different phase. It doesn't get boring, I'll tell you that.

SI: What do you do differently now on the court than in the past?

Wade: The one thing I've always tried to do since I can remember playing basketball is something my dad always told me: be an all-around player. And I think now more than anything you're seeing that. When you are scoring a lot early in your career, it's what people talk about. But I've always been a guy who's been able to score, been able to pass, been able to rebound, been able to block shots, been able to defend. That is on display more now because I don't have the ball in my hands as much. Obviously, LeBron James is LeBron James; he's the most dominant player in the game today. To really be seen when you're playing with someone like that you have to do other things than be on ESPN's Top 10 plays, because he's going to be on there every night. So now is probably the time when my overall game, the other things I can do besides just score, is evident.

SI: Has your appreciation for the game of basketball changed since early in career?

Wade: No, because I appreciate what it's always done for me since I was a kid. If you'd have asked me when I came in my rookie year, "In 10 years, how do you think your career is going to be?" I'd have never thought it was going to be this way at all. I'm grateful for how my career has gone so far.

SI: Everything you or your teammate do, say or even wear is scrutinized. Has that changed how you interact with people?

Wade: You've got to be aware. Sometimes you have to sit back and think about things a little more than you probably had to before. Now, when the world of social media is so big and everyone who has an opinion can use that opinion, and you're susceptible to everyone now, it's a lot different. You have to make the change with the way the world is today.

We're not perfect. We're going to make mistakes in the sense of public perception, but you've got to learn from them. Just like anything else, the only way you're going to learn is by doing it. I've made mistakes and I've learned from those mistakes. We're not complaining. No one has told us how to do it. We're just trying to figure it out on the fly. So hopefully our kids will be better at it than we are.

SI: Is what makes you happy now as a player different than earlier in your career?

Wade: That's a two-part answer for me. One is winning, and winning feels great no matter what level, what time, what's expected, what isn't expected. Winning feels great, period. But I do appreciate certain things now that I probably didn't earlier in my career. What I'm going to miss most when I'm done playing this game of basketball is probably my teammates and the interactions that we have, the locker room. That's where we're able to keep our sanity and not have to worry about anything and run amok with each other. We put out the Harlem Shake video recently. It was just us having fun, what we always do, and we just thought we'd capture it on camera and give the world a little view of how the Miami Heat are as teammates.

SI: Those teammates and you have won 18 games in a row. How does the streak play into your mindset in preparing and playing each game?

Wade: I don't think about it. We approach every game to win it. Some nights you're going to come out with more energy, more focus than others, but we prepare every game to win, so it doesn't really affect us going into a basketball game. You don't get nervous, thinking "Oh, we're going to mess up the streak." Once the streak ends we've got another game the next night or the following night. It's just about the process for us. It's about getting better and staying healthy as we make our run to the playoffs.

SI: You made some news recently with your new Way of Wade moniker. What is the story behind it?

Wade: The Way of Wade is actually my brand. I was just having fun with my teammates one night. The guys asked me, "Since you're not going by Flash anymore, what do we call you?" They were just having fun. So I said, "Just call me Wow." And everybody said, "Wow?" And I said it's the Way of Wade. It's what I'm building and what I've created with my shoe brand. And it kind of caught on in a funny way and we've been joking about it. I took it to Twitter to see what everybody thought about it, and everyone obviously has their own opinions. I was just having fun.

SI: Teams and players come at the Heat aggressively every game, and you have not been one to shy away from a confrontation. Is that a planned choice on your part?

Wade: It's not something I think about. It's just who you are, and I'm always going to stick up for my brothers. This is a team sport, it's not an individual sport. So I'm going to make sure that I'm always there for my brothers just like they're there for me. This is a physical game that we play. People used to always call it a pretty-boy's game, but this is flesh on flesh. You can't hide anything. We have nothing to protect us. But I'm always going to be a good teammate.

SI: You have two titles, an Olympic gold medal and more. What's left for you to accomplish?

Wade: At this point in my life and my career, when it comes to basketball, it's to give myself an opportunity to compete for a championship and be successful in that sense. I'm not as worried about the individual things as I was when I first came into the NBA. Early on, I wanted to make my name, I wanted people to respect me. Now, I'm more interested in team success. You don't have a LeBron James and Chris Bosh come down to Miami if you're not into team success. Outside of that, I'm a father of my kids and my family and I'm just trying to be the best person, the best dad, the best man that I can be as I continue to grow in life. It's a different era of my life, but the goals are the same; you just want to be as great as you can be both on and off the court.

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