Even while wearing all three of his championship rings, basking in his Sports Illustrated cover photo shoot, Dwyane Wade refused to put himself in the conversation as one of the best shooting guards of all-time.
“False. False,” Wade insists when asked if it’s true he’s the second-best two-guard ever. “It’s Jordan, then Kobe, then whoever else you want to put. But those are the top two.”
In addition to his exit interview with SI (which you can watch here if reading isn’t your thing), Wade answered a lot of questions about his career. In honor of his final game in the NBA, here are Wade’s reflections on his relationship with Erik Spoelstra, some of his more famous battles, and much more.
On his relationship with Erik Spoelstra
When I first got here, he was in the video room and he would be the one they called out of the video room to come and help me get shots up. So we just started working together. He helped me a lot on my balance of my jump shot, the base of my moves and my shot to get me stronger. We kind of built that relationship and then at some point during he moved up on the front of the bench, and it was cool for me because I had someone who I knew outside of Pat, had somebody that I could go to and talk to in a different way.
And then he eventually got the head coaching job and I was like, “Oh, this is cool because I have a great relationship with him.” But we had to grow in that role of head coach and star player. We bumped heads at times, because I wanted certain things the way I wanted, and he wanted certain things the way he wanted as he was trying to find his identity as a coach.
So it was a little tough at first. And I think over the course of time, you know, we just started to get an unbelievable amount of respect for each other, what each other brings to the game and I know that he works as hard as I work at my craft—I know he works the same on his craft. So I respect him for what he's doing and what he's accomplished.
I think for me, my respect went to another level with him during the Big Three era because that was tough. And he stayed so consistent and he kept us as focused as we could be. It was hard. It was a lot of noise and he kept it quiet for us when we were in between the lines. I was like, “You know what? This guy is a great leader of men.” I didn't know he had that because he was different than any other coach I've had before. I was used to Tom Crean, Jack Fitzgerald, Pat Riley. They were all similar. They would all curse you out, they would all get on you. Like they were from that hardcore era. And [Spo] wasn't. So it took a little while to get used to his style. But once I did, you know, we've had a great relationship, a very respectful relationship for a long time now.
On getting his first tattoo in China
I told my wife that I was thinking of getting this tattoo of my daughter’s name. I had it figured out, I knew where, I knew the script, everything. I was actually going to do it in Los Angeles but [the tattoo artist] wasn’t there before I left. When I got to China, I told [C.J. McCollum and Udonis Haslem] I want to get my first tattoo, and I want to get it here. I trust you guys to find a great tattoo artist for me. Let’s just say, I had a lot to drink. I had a lot of confidence going into this tattoo. UD was there. CJ was there. My wife left the room because she couldn’t believe I was doing it. I was just in there getting my tattoo, shirt off, cigar, chillin’.
On not playing prime LeBron in the playoffs
I definitely wish I did. Obviously, I always talk about how Kobe was my favorite player to play against. But when you see a team four times a year, one of my best friends. I loved playing against Bron. I loved competing against him. I always loved stacking myself up to see where I was against him, or against his teams. I wish I had that opportunity to get him in the playoffs. I think the game would have loved it. It didn’t happen against each other, but we gave them some other memories.
On Allen’s Shot Potentially Saving Bosh from Being Traded
I don’t think so. The three of us together is what made us special. We would have made changes if we lost again, but I don’t think they would have traded Chris.
On LeBron’s decision to leave Miami
It’s your career, you make whatever decision you want to make for your career. How are you going to be mad at that? I think everybody talks about, well Dwyane opted out of his contract for LeBron. I didn’t opt out of my contract for LeBron. LeBron has way more money than Dwyane [Laughs.] I was getting older. I wanted to be able to extend more years. People just get it a little confused, about how they would react, how they would respond. But that’s not me. I shook his hand, I said thank you for the four years. We had an amazing time. Good luck and congratulations, I know what this means to you. Even though things went down the way they went down in Cleveland, I knew that it meant something to him [to go back.]
On who he hated guarding the most
Rip Hamilton. Hated guarding Rip, hated guarding Ray Allen. Guys that just move a lot, running through triple screens, never staying still. Hated guarding those guys.
On who he hated guarding him the most
Lance Stephenson. Lance was annoying as hell. Kirk Hinrich was annoying, but it was different. Kirk was doing his job of defending. Lance was annoying because he was doing other things he felt would get in your head. Kirk was locked in and you had to mind your p’s and q’s.
On Lance Stephenson signing with the Lakers
Oh, I thought it was hilarious. That’s this league, bro. You never know who you’ll play with but I thought it was hilarious. We had so many battles with Indiana, and obviously Lance has been a part of a lot of stories. I thought it was funny, but that’s the NBA.
On what went through his mind as he smiled at Lance
Lance liked to talk tough, he would say a lot of stuff. And I was always—we’re just playing basketball. And he’s talking a lot of stuff. I thought it was cute.
On what went through while staring down Kevin Garnett
You’re not the big brother anymore.
On what he’ll do the first day of retirement
First day, when the season is over? I’m going to be recovering... from the night before. [Laughs]