- Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is the subject of the ESPN Films documentary “D. Wade: Life Unexpected.”
- In an exclusive interview, Wade told Business Insider about his post-retirement plans, including his new production company and his thoughts on coaching in the NBA.
- Wade also discussed the public’s reaction to his daughter Zaya’s coming out as transgender last month.
- View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.
Following is a transcript of Business Insider Today’s interview with Dwyane Wade. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Watch the interview here.
Dwyane Wade had a professional career that any athlete would be jealous of.
The three-time NBA champion is almost surely bound for the Hall of Fame, and although his basketball career is over, he’s not retiring just yet. We sat down with Wade to talk about his new documentary, “D. Wade: Life Unexpected,” and how he’s prepared for his next chapter.
Dwyane Wade, former NBA All-Star: I think it was roughly around like 25, I started to think differently about the game. And even though I was still in the early and in a prime in my career, I started to take the things I did off the court a lot more serious, and really started focusing on building something that will last and that I can do when I’m done playing the game of basketball.
Havovi Cooper, Business Insider Today host: You went on to create your own production company. Was that an obvious next step?
Wade: I don’t know if it was obvious or not. But maybe, maybe a little bit. But for me, I just, I want to be able to create content that I want to see and that I feel that others want to see.
Wade’s production company, 59th & Prairie Entertainment, was founded in 2019. Its latest project catalogs Wade’s entire professional career. The documentary is an intimate look at moments with his family, friends, and teammates.
Wade: So I wanted to own my own story. I wanted to own my own content. So 10-plus years ago, I started that process, and it just so happened that once I ended my career I was like, OK, we got all this footage, let’s do something with it to kind of wrap up this journey and this part of my life. And once we do that, now we can move on and we can start this next journey.
Cooper: You’re involved in a lot of different business partnerships. How do you choose what’s right for you?
Wade: Well, you try to choose something that’s just authentic to who you are, and some of that’s not going to feel like work when you’re doing it necessarily.
It’s trying to look, where you are today, but where you’re going at the same time, and try to associate yourself with brands, people who have the same vision and the same goals and the same mentality as you. It takes a strong team around me as well to help me when it comes to making these decisions. I don’t make them all by myself.
Cooper: When you’re getting into a project, who do you turn to for advice? Do you turn to your wife?
Wade: I definitely run a lot of things by my wife when it comes to, in this world of content and this world of my production company, because she’s been in this business for over 20 years. So I got a cheat code at home when it comes to giving me a different way of thinking, a way of portraying and positioning myself as I try to grow, you know, in this second act and this new part of my life.
Wade opened up about the response to his daughter Zaya’s coming out as transgender, and the example he hopes his family sets for others.
Wade: It was a decision that we took a while to come to. You weigh her age, you weigh people’s knowledge on the topic.
I like to say we are in the step one of this process of finding answers, and our daughter is finding them the same way, and we’re taking her lead, you know. And I think that’s one of my greatest strengths as a parent, is to be able to listen to our kids and to be able to parent them by what it is they would like to do. And help them along the way and push them in that, in what they want to do, and not just push them on something that we want.
Part of Wade’s legacy is fostering a path for NBA players to take control of their careers. Wade credits the 2010 free agency period — when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Wade’s Miami Heat — as a catalyst that switched power from the owners to the players.
Wade: I’m proud to be a part of you know, LeBron, Chris Bosh, and myself, proud that we was a part of creating that change and shifting the power. It’ll shift back at some point, but 10 years strong, the power has been shifted into the player’s hand. And as a player and as an advocate for the players coming forward after us and coming up, that’s what you want.
We understand what the game has done for us and the platform the game gives us, but the game is only good as the players and the fact that the players can have that power.
Cooper: Your professional career started in 2003. How has the NBA changed since then?
Wade: Just the style, the style of the game has changed multiple times. You know, when I first came in, it was dominated by big fellas. Shaq dominated the league. When I first came, it was a big two-guard game. Now it’s a positionless game where anybody, someone 6’4″ can be playing center. It’s changed so much.
But even like style, once again fashion. Fashion has become a big part of the game. When I first came in, it didn’t matter what you wore. You’d just throw on a big white T-shirt and some big baggy shorts and go to the game. Now you’ve got guys walking in like they’re on the runway. So the game has evolved in so many amazing ways, and I give a lot of credit to the players, using their voice, to our commissioner Adam Silver for taking what David Stern did, and allowing the players to have a voice and a say-so, and the fans in the game. So it has a lot more growth and a lot more room to grow. But I love what the game is today.
Havovi: Now with NBA and the sport in general, do you feel like you might go back to it as a coach or an adviser or any other?
Wade: I will never go back as a coach. And I live by this never creed, don’t say never. I’ll say never about being a coach. I don’t want to be a coach. That’s not my expertise. That’s not my strength as a basketball mind.
I don’t want to go back and live the same schedule that I just retired from. Coaches live the same schedule and even worse, because they got to be there before you and after. I don’t want that life. Not at all.
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