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Flash landing


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D Wade is of course from Chi-Town, so there are people up here following and rooting for him. Cool story (although a bit long for you lazy ones) from Chicago Sports website on him can be found here.


Flash landing


The Wade file



Full name: Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr.

Height: 6-4

Weight: 212

Born: Jan. 17, 1982

High school: Richards

College: Marquette

Drafted: First round (fifth overall) by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA draft.

Family: Wife (Siohvaughn) and son (Zaire).


By Melissa Isaacson

Tribune staff reporter


May 7, 2005, 10:07 PM CDT



MIAMI -- They sit in director's chairs, the mogul and his apprentice, conducting a little business with Converse and ESPN and discussing the kid's new nickname.


It took Shaquille O'Neal a little while after he arrived in Miami to come up with "Flash," though nickname-giving is one of O'Neal's sub-specialties. And make no mistake, it was not done without considerable forethought.



"I knew he was a young kid who had it, so I just had to teach him the secret that Magic [Johnson] taught me," O'Neal says as he and the Miami Heat take a weeklong break between their first- and second-round playoff series. "It's called marketing. I started it going. Now he has to finish it off."


A burgeoning superstar already, Dwyane Wade, the 23-year-old from Robbins who starred at Marquette, appears to be on the brink of that elusive crossover to household name and pop-culture celebrity.


"Do I look all right?" he says into the camera, "do I look beautiful? Top 50? All right."


O'Neal breaks up. Wade is referring to recently appearing on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list. The joke of it is that off-camera and off-court, Wade is a soft-spoken, almost shy young man. Married for four years to his childhood sweetheart, Siohvaughn, the father of 3-year-old Zaire, Wade is the last person to sound like, well, Shaq.


Wade's humility is why O'Neal and the rest of the Heat players love him. But his dazzling talents on the court demand he adopt a persona a little more befitting an NBA star.


He already has his own publicist, a deal with P. Diddy to model his Sean John clothing line, a billboard in Times Square, a local car deal that includes the use of a $100,000 customized Range Rover and two major national endorsements coming soon.


There's also his 24-point regular-season scoring average.


In Miami's first-round sweep of New Jersey, Wade joined Admin Bird, Bob Cousy, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson on the list of players to average at least 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists while also shooting at least 50 percent in a playoff series.


A virtual unknown for a No. 5 NBA draft pick, Wade left Marquette in 2003 after leading the then-Golden Eagles to the Final Four in his junior season. Now, benefiting from the increased attention O'Neal has brought this season since his trade from the Lakers and from his own increasing self-assurance, the second-year guard is breaking out.


In recent weeks, Wade has postured before actor Matthew Modine after a buzzer-beating game-winner against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, blown kisses to the New Jersey crowd during the playoffs and trash-talked with Jay-Z, a part-owner of the Nets.


"That's how you end the game" he told the rapper after he hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to wrap up the series sweep in Game 4.


This from the kid whose general rule of thumb after spine-tingling jams is to "act like you've been there before." In other words, don't react at all.


Back home in Chicago, Wade's sister Tragil, 27, laughs.


"I told him he needs to show more emotion," she says. "It has definitely boosted his confidence level."


So who is the real Dwyane Wade?


"He is what he is on the court, and that's why he's so great," teammate Keyon Dooling says. "And he is what he is off the court, and that's what makes him a better person.


"It's not like he has a split personality. You have to be able to separate what goes on between the lines and then off the court, and he does a great job at that."


Indeed, even when he discusses trash-talking, Wade sounds thoughtful "On the court, that's my job, I have to act a certain way, play a certain way," he says. "Off the court, I like to relax. I like to be cool, calm and not get mad too often."


was noted during the Nets series that Wade eagerly watched tapes coach Stan Van Gundy had prepared to show him some of the mistakes he had made during the series.



"I think he has the perfect mix," Van Gundy says. "He has the confidence when he walks on the court that he doesn't think anybody is better than him, but he has the humility to realize he has things he needs to work on, to look at the way he's being played and make adjustments. He's a confident guy, but he's also a humble guy."


Clearly, Wade, even with his recent bluster, is still a long way from cocky.


When he first heard about the "50 Most Beautiful" list, he says, "It was a little confusing. I didn't expect it at all, so I didn't know what to think at first, but then I was like, 'OK, it's not bad.' But then I was like, 'Oh, no, they're going to kill me in the locker room,' so I'm kind of in-between."


Not long ago, a routine trip with his wife to a Bed, Bath&Beyond turned into a near mob scene.


"He's saying to me, 'I don't understand it.' It's like he's embarrassed," says Henry Thomas, his Skokie-based agent. "I don't think he fully appreciates how big he has become, and that's the refreshing thing. All this has to have some effect on him, but I don't think it's to the point where he becomes the out-of-control superstar."


Thomas says he has been selective about which deals to push Wade toward, wanting to align him with "strong, solid, Fortune 500 companies that [could] be parlayed into a relationship long after he has finished playing basketball."


Wade even is pondering a future acting career. But is all of this too much, too soon? Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based marketing firm Sportscorp Ltd., thinks it might be.


"The People magazine thing has helped him cross over to mainstream celebrity, but he's not well-known enough to take full advantage of that yet," Ganis says. "Jon Gruden was put on the same People list (in 2002), but he already had been the coach of the Raiders for years ? he had a national presence.


"It's a year too soon for Dwyane. It would be better if they held off until after his team won an NBA championship. He's not there yet. Even his game, as exciting as it is, is not LeBron [James] or Kobe [bryant] quality yet. He hasn't won anything yet.


"The way these lists are put together, public relations people get involved, Kobe was on the list last year and somebody at the magazine hyperventilates for a sports star and they're told 'This is the next Kobe.' A year from now, if his team does well, fine. His hype got ahead of his game."


Wade, who will earn $2.8 million this season under terms of his rookie contract, is matter-of-fact about it all.


"When you're young, you always dream about these opportunities, so once you get them, you have to treat them for what they're worth," he says. "I take this People magazine for what it's worth. At the same time, I know the reason I got it is because of basketball, so basketball is still the most important thing.


"Still, everything you get off the court, you have to have fun with it."


The buildup is not likely to change him, say those who know him best.


"Dwyane is growing in a vertical way, not a horizontal way," Marquette coach Tom Crean says. "His confidence is growing, and remember, he's only 23. It seems like he has been playing for a long time, but we're still looking at somebody who has never acted like this is his birthright.


"Sports are very territorial and you really do have to protect your turf, so to speak. A lot of people are gunning for him right now. There have been some hard fouls [lately] and opponents are trying their very best to get into his head. ? This is fun to watch him develop that attitude you need to compete at the highest level."


Jack Fitzgerald, his coach at Richards High School, says Wade has prepared himself for these moments.


"He knew he was going to be a star his first weekend playing for Marquette, when he was named MVP at the Great Alaska Shootout," Fitzgerald says. "If he gets a little rambunctious, the people he knows and respects will tell him to slow down a little bit."


The first undoubtedly will be Tragil, whom Wade credits with being the most influential person in his life, helping raise him when their mother, a divorced parent of four, was working and later when Dwyane moved in with their father.


"In all aspects, my job is to keep him grounded," Tragil says with a laugh. "I never have to worry about him getting a big head. I tell him, 'I know everyone is trying to pump you up, but don't even think about it. You're still ugly.' But I have to admit, this [People] thing hushed me up. I mean, this is huge. This magazine is in Jewel and Walgreens. He may not hear from me for a while."



Tragil credits O'Neal with helping her brother mature as a player and in the corporate world. Thomas agrees the trade helped raise Wade's profile.


"I told him at the time, 'Now you're going to be on the big stage every night,'" Thomas recalls. "Obviously, you still have to perform, but now your performances will be magnified.


"Plus the dynamic of Shaq and Dwyane as opposed to Shaq's relationship with Kobe also raised Dwyane's profile. [O'Neal] comes out of a contentious relationship with Kobe to where he seamlessly blends in with this young kid."


In their first days together, O'Neal and Wade took great pains to credit the other for leading the team, exchanging almost daily compliments. But now the relationship clearly has deepened past the mere conciliatory into a mutual trust and genuine respect for one another.


"Either one of those guys would be the perfect complement for any other great player," Van Gundy says. "They're both very unselfish guys, very team-oriented, so they're paired up with another guy who's team-oriented and unselfish and both of them made sure they gave the other guy credit for what was going on. And very genuinely.


"Neither one of them is trying to force it. They have great appreciation for each other and each other's talents, and when you get guys like that, it makes it easy for them to get along. They really pull everybody else in because they have great appreciation for the other 13 guys here and know they can't be successful without those guys either."


Wade said O'Neal immediately put him at ease with a phone call right after the trade.


"He wasn't coming down here to be the man, to take all the shots and do this and that," Wade says. "The reason he was coming down here was to win a championship, and that's the reason I play this game. So with that being said, there was an immediate cohesiveness between us.


"We have fun. We tease each other. We have a lot of different relationships, I always say. We have a big brother-little brother relationship, we have a father-son, then at the same time, we're on the same page when we're on the court.


"Sometimes I'll say, 'This is your team,' and he'll say, 'No, it's your team.' He wants to be on the same page, and of course, I want that. It just works."


Wade says he draws upon the foremost example he had as a youngster growing up a Bulls fan.


"You never heard about Michael and Scottie having any problems over who was going to take the last shot, who was going to lead the team in scoring. You just heard about the things they did for the team," he says. "So I grew up watching that, and that's just the way I know how to do things. Without even thinking about it, it's part of who I am."


It's part of why teammates like 13-year veteran Alonzo Mourning are impressed.


Wade "is a special individual," Mourning says. "I've been around this game a long time and and he has the total package. I'm not comparing his game to Michael's, but from an all-around perspective, his on- and off-court demeanor, he has the same type of personality. And the talent. He just gets it. He's married, he has a child, he understands responsibility."


The man who came up with "Flash" because "it's full-speed go to another level with Dwyane," has this lesson on marketing the name.


"At home, I'm 'Daddy,' when I leave, I'm 'Shaq,' and here, I'm 'Superman,'" O'Neal explains. "But Dwyane doesn't have to think about his own marketing. That's why he has me. I'm going to teach him the ropes."


Wade could do worse.


"It's actually not really advice I give him," O'Neal says, "it's just stories I tell him about mistakes I've made so he doesn't make the same ones. But he'll be all right because if anyone messes with Dwyane, they mess with me."


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