As Heat star guard Dwyane Wade prepared for his upcoming weekend of charity functions in his hometown, he took a few moments during a block of promotional media interviews to discuss a number of Hot-button topics entering the start of training camp.
From confirming his decision to bypass a contract extension to whether a Chicago homecoming would be too hard to resist next summer to his reaction to Michael Beasley's drug rehab stint, Wade (pictured right, soaring) covered plenty of ground. We reserved majority of his comments on his contract decision for a story that will run in Thursday's paper and appear online in a matter of minutes.
The rest is here. Dig in. There's plenty.
MW: Training camp will be here in a matter of weeks. You've been on the go quite a bit this summer. Are you ready to get it going again?
DW: The main thing is you want to come into camp early and make sure everyone is on the same page, mentally and physically. There's still a little more business I have to take care of, but I'll be there to get it going in the next week or so. It's going to be a little bit different for me this year than it was last year.
MW: You managed to make it through almost the entire season last year without any significant injuries. There were a few times when you were banged up and sore. Were there any lingering injury issues that had to be addressed, through surgery or otherwise, this offseason?
DW: I've pretty much maintained the same approach I had last summer (by) treating some of the nagging things I had, whether it was the shoulder or the hip (late last season) or things like that. Tim (Grover, pictured left, working with Wade) made sure again that I took care of those things and continued to get stronger without necessarily putting on a lot of muscle. I can put on muscle easily, but I didn't want to get any bigger.
MW: Has that muscle mass, or trying to avoid putting on more weight, been a problem? Do you expect to report at or about the same weight you were last season?
DW: About the same. Last year, I was about 228 pounds. Everybody keeps thinking I'm supposed to be 212 or something, which I was six years (ago). I haven't been that in years. You build muscle and strength as you go. But I feel strong and quick at 228, with six percent body fat, to make sure I can go all season.
MW: Shifting away from basketball for a second. I noticed the caller ID says Temple of Praise, which is the church you bought for your mother, Jolinda, a couple of years ago. How is that ministry going and how has it evolved over the two years?
DW: It really has grown. It means a lot to my family and a lot of other people who have come through the doors since we opened. When I bought it, it was just a church. But now it's also place that has expanded into a school. My mother got her license to teach and the doors have opened to young people and adults who have a learning environment to grown in a lot of different areas and subjects. People who never had an opportunity to learn to read or do other things can come here. It's a place we're really proud of, a blessing.
MW: A lot of focus has been on sort of the inactivity of the Heat's roster this offseason. But in another way, you guys have been really active in different communities off the court. You've talked about your foundation expanding, Daequan Cook spoke at a graduation for a rehab program and dedicated his basketball camp to a kid who was killed in a car accident, Udonis Haslem went to impoverished areas of Jamaica to hand out school supplies for four days, James Jones helps people stay in their homes, Jermaine O'Neal does plenty of things behind the scenes, and so on.
DW: We talk about that a lot as teammates. And the thing is, none of it is really for show. None of it is for the TV cameras or to get a lot of recognition. That's what this team, this organization has been about. You basically have choices as a player. You can play basketball, make all of your money and just go retire. Or you can do those things and try to make a difference and help other people. I was proud to see Daequan and some of the young guys really get involved. We try to build on what we're all doing.
MW: Legal issues (divorce proceedings and civil lawsuits) forced you to miss practice time in camp and a few times during the season. Have any of those matters been resolved? Or might you have to miss time here and there this season to deal with some lingering issues?
DW: Let's just say that it's in a better position now than it's been. It's there and it's probably going to be there, but I'm over it and it's behind me. Last year I was over it. It's not going to be a big issue to me, because I'm behind it. But the Heat has been great about giving me time to deal with things. It's a possibility (missing more time), just for the fact that it's not all complete yet. My team understands.
MW: Pat Riley said the other day that you were one of the first players to reach out to Michael Beasley after he was forced to spend more time in rehab. I realize you can't address specifics, but what's been your role in dealing with Beasley (right, celebrating with Wade) through this ordeal. And how has it affected the trust between you two?
DW: I reached out to Mike, and my message to him was that we all make mistakes. Everybody else's mistakes just aren't seen all the time. I just told Mike to come in and accept the mistakes that he's made and come into camp and try to make something positive out of it.
MW: A lot was made out of your comments earlier this summer about upgrading the roster. Do you believe in this roster and can this team at least make it back to where you were last season, in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the East?
DW: It remains to be seen, just like with all of those teams that made all of those changes. I have confidence that our guys have been working hard and getting better. I've seen Jermaine almost every day up here working. We just have to come together early and don't come in thinking about the individual things that everybody may have on their minds. It's going to be tough, even tougher. But that just means we have to get it done early and get it rolling.
MW: And last, but not least, you sent a Twitter message today saying that Jay Z belongs right alongside Tupac and Biggie as the greatest rappers of all time. I've gotta call you out on that a bit. Jay is a beast. But he has the luxury of being in an era where there's really no competition for him out there. Whereas Biggie had Pac, Pac had Nas, Cube had to deal with NWA, then there was Snoop, Scarface out of Houston. I'm just saying. The field of greatness was much deeper than it is now. Jay is like Mayweather, who is clearly dominating now. But Mayweather never had to fight in that era with Sugar Ray, Tommy Hearns, Hagler, Duran, Sweet Pea Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez and them.
DW: Right, right. But when you look at all that Jay has done, you have to put him up there. He doesn't have to fight. But what he's doing now, everything he's touching, he's taking it to another level. Don't get me wrong. I've got Pac as the greatest who ever did it. Then, I think, Biggie is second. But Jay (left, pictured with Wade) is right up there. People think I'm saying this just because I know him. I know a lot of these guys out there. I'm always going to rep the Chi - Common, Kanye. But when you look at who is doing what now, you've got to put Jay at the top. Then, you've got to go Lil Wayne and Kanye after that, and more after that. When you look back 10 or 20 years from now, just like we're doing with Biggie and Pac, people are going to be talking about Jay Z like that.