In his introductory news conference as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade said Friday (Saturday in Manila) that a philosophical change by the Heat organization, combined with his desire to play in his hometown, ultimately led to his decision to leave Miami after 13 years and three championships.
“Last year I wanted more money — just to be real; I got more money,” Wade said. “This year, the direction and the focus for that organization in Miami — which I have nothing but love and respect for — was a little different than it has been in years past.”
Wade also said playing in Chicago was always a dream, recalling how he watched Michael Jordan’s Bulls growing up.
“This is a place I really wanted to be, a place my heart pulled me towards,” he said, adding this wasn’t a money-driven decision even though the Bulls’ two-year, $47 million offer topped Miami’s two-year, $40 million bid.
“I had a contract offer in Miami that I could have took,” he said. “I decided not to take it. It was my decision to be selfish and to live out a dream of mine. I’ve brought a lot of excitement to Miami, and it’s a home to me. It will always be.
“I want to bring a little bit here to Chicago when I have a little bit left. I still have a little bit left, by the way. So, let’s clear up the notion that [Heat president] Pat Riley orchestrated me getting out of Miami because he didn’t offer me the money I wanted. This was not a money deal.”
Wade said he has no “rift” with Riley and wasn’t angry that Riley didn’t reach out to him during negotiations, although Riley has expressed remorse that he didn’t contact Wade during free agency.
“It wasn’t because he didn’t reach out to me,” Wade said. “How petty is that?”
Wade said he dealt exclusively with the Arisons — owner Micky and team CEO Nick.
“I dealt with Micky Arison, Nick Arison when it came to my contracts the last two years,” he said. “[Riley] didn’t call or email or text or nothing like that to try to sway me or try to get me back.
“I wasn’t looking for Pat to reach out to me. … I sat down with the guys who pay the bills. My focus was making the best decision for my family. [Riley] has to make the best decision for the organization, which he has done an amazing job over his tenure there. And we all benefited from it.”
Wade said during a meeting with the Arisons, “they asked me, ‘What else? Is there anything else we can do?’ I said, ‘This is a decision I’m going to have to make.’… I knew they wanted me to still be there, but ultimately I wanted to be here.”
Wade, who has a player option on the second year of his contract, was noncommittal about whether Chicago would be his final NBA stop but said he would defer to Jimmy Butler as the face of the Bulls.
He said the move wasn’t immediately embraced by his sons (“they heard winter and they got scared”) and noted that wife Gabrielle Union had “just built her dream home, well she thought, in Miami.”
Of leaving the Heat, he said: “No one expected this to happen — no one.”