Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke addresses the future of the Miami Heat's biggest star.
Whether the Heat wins or loses the NBA Finals, everybody should stop talking about what is going on with Dwyane Wade. The sports media has been dogging Wade because he's embraced the celebrity lifestyle and doesn't seem as explosive as he used to be attacking the rim. But this is a young man who has gone through a major transition in his life during the past couple of years. In addition to enduring a messy divorce, he has been turned into a villain by national pundits because he brought his MVP teammate LeBron James to Miami and he likes to attend fashion week in New York and Paris.
But what Wade is going through happens to every entertainer or superstar athlete when the spotlight gets turned on them. He's not the first NBA star to trade in his regular ensemble of T-shirt and blue jeans for pink pants, purple suits, and eyeglasses without lenses. Just look at Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who have made dressing like Steve Urkel chic. And Wade is also not the first celebrity athlete to break up with his high school sweetheart to be with a Hollywood actress.
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I remember when he first got to Miami after he was drafted out of Marquette University in 2003. He was never in the spotlight because it was all about James and Carmelo Anthony, who were drafted ahead of him. Yet he was the only college player in that draft who had put his entire team on his back on the way to a Final Four appearance. I used to run into Wade at the clubs on South Beach. I let him know how crazy Miami nightlife can be and not to get caught up in it because he was going to be great. He was down-to-earth and soft-spoken.
The media criticisms of Wade's on-the-court performance during this playoff run have been unfair. He's still as humble and hungry as ever. Even though I didn't like it, he came out and said that this is LeBron's team now and that the King is better than he is. Maybe that was Pat Riley telling Wade to say that. But the Heat will always be Wade's team first.
I tell all the young kids I coach to always be like an up-and-coming hip-hop MC who is so hungry to get noticed he will grab the microphone at any talent show. But it's hard to maintain that hunger once you are so rich you have stylists and PR people saying you have to dress a certain way and get a trophy wife. Wade has done a great job of staying hungry in spite of all his success.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.