Following a weekend of jersey retirement, a documentary premiere, and more thank-yous than one man could possibly handle, Dwyane Wade is free to live his best postcourt life. He could float away to spend the majority of his days in California with wife Gabrielle Union and supporting her career as a Hollywood A-lister, just as she has done for his career as an NBA player. He could also continue to work for TNT as a basketball analyst, flying out to random cities once or twice a week and spending half his time talking about the next Jazz-Kings game.
Or the greatest player in Miami Heat history could take a gap year between his retirement and the next chapter of his Hall of Fame basketball career and become the next great Heat executive. He could bring more parades to Biscayne Boulevard and more gaudy championship rings to his fingers. He could decide life after basketball means snagging an office with a view of Biscayne Bay while he assumes the job of running an NBA franchise.
Hell, Wade should own a piece of the Heat — not in five years or ten years, but right now.
Selfishly, we'd like to make the case for why Wade should jump directly into a job with the Heat.
Wade could follow in the footsteps of his idol, Michael Jordan. Wade grew up in Chicago idolizing Michael Jordan. He wants to "Be Like Mike," the same as just about everyone else on the planet. The chances of that happening were likely one in a trillion, but it happened for Wade: He has cemented his role as one of the greatest shooting guards of all time, just like his idol.
Since 2010, Jordan has owned the Charlotte Hornets, one of only three NBA teams with nonwhite majority owners. That's a problem for a sport fueled overwhelmingly by African-American players. Wade could start a trend that would likely continue once other members of his "Banana Boat" crew retire. LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony all have the chops to become team owners. Wade could be the first of the bunch.
The summer of Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming, making it a perfect time for Wade to work his legendary recruiting magic. It's a dirty little secret that Wade is the biggest reason Miami was able to snag every great player. Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Jimmy Butler — you name the star who has come to Miami since 2003, and Wade is the primary reason for each transaction. Now he can jump right back into the recruiting game and land Miami the biggest star available in 2021: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Butler singed on because Wade sold him on Miami. Nobody can explain better than Wade why the Heat is the place to get the most out of your basketball career. Wade could start his co-owner regime in the front office next to Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem — and a new superteam that could usher Pat Riley into retirement.
Wade should get involved in Miami before Chicago offers him the world to run the Bulls. The Chicago Bulls are a dumpster fire. It's a terribly run franchise that's perpetually rebuilding and gets attention only because of the jerseys its players wear. Eventually, everything will be torn down in Chicago, and the Bulls will be looking to make a splash. One has to assume that Wade — a Chicago native who grew up as a Bulls fan and briefly played for the team — would be one of the first phone calls the team would make.
Taking that job would be a horrible mistake for Wade. If you don't think he would do it, remember that he once said he would love to "bring the game of basketball back to Seattle" after retirement. Just as many coaches and executives have tried in vain to take the so-called Patriot Way from New England elsewhere, the Heat Way doesn't travel. It's not something you can build overnight. Bulls fans didn't react well when Wade signed with the team, and he certainly wouldn't get a big honeymoon if things didn't go his way there.
Miami is the spot for Wade. Chicago could be a career blemish waiting to happen.
Retiring is hard, but being involved with the Heat could make it easier. Almost every player who has retired has said the same thing: It's difficult to be a competitor at the top of a sport and then suddenly not have practice, games, or even the locker room in one's life every day. Everything goes quiet, and though spending more time with the family is great, a void still exists. The best way to avoid that fate is to stick around in a different, higher-level capacity.
Wade should pull a Derek Jeter and report to the front office to help build the next title contender. It will keep him within walking distance of Dwyane Wade Boulevard but with much less commitment than it took to play the game day in and day out.
Wade has so much more to offer the game of basketball. The Heat, and even the entire NBA, needs Wade. He has so much to offer the next generation of the sport. If there's anything his retirement speech taught us, it's that he's so well-spoken and so powerful that he could run for office one day. He gives people hope. He makes them listen. He makes them feel better about themselves.
The NBA, the Miami Heat, and, more important, young players coming into the league need him around more than ever now that Kobe Bryant is gone. Wade's knowledge and thoughtfulness are invaluable and should not be wasted.
Some people were just born to do something for their entire lives. Dwyane Wade was born to be around the game of basketball.