It would be easy for Dwyane Wade to forecast a second straight NBA title in 2013 for his Miami Heat.
After all, the ballyhooed Big Three of him, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are coming off a season that saw them advance to their second Finals in as many seasons together before knocking off Oklahoma City. However, when RedEye offered him that bait, Wade refused to take it.
"I'm not a predictor because you never know what's gonna go from one day to the next," he said, shaking his head. "We just wanna come out and hopefully stay as healthy as possible."
One thing Wade will admit to: He's just as sick of being asked to compare James to Michael Jordan as you are of hearing those comparisons.
"Yeah, I mean it shouldn't [happen]," Wade said. "I understand it's going to happen. There are a lot of players that get compared to Michael Jordan. A lot of players go through that when you are a good player. They want to always put you against the greatest."
Like Bulls star Derrick Rose, the 30-year-old Wade finds himself working his way back from knee surgery. Unlike Rose, he's expected to be ready for the start of the season. NBA teams opened training camp this week.
The pair of Chicago stars did not speak over the summer, but Wade is confident Rose's injury shouldn't keep Bulls fans up at night.
"[Rehabilitation] is hard work. Obviously it can be done and you can come back and be not only the same player but even better," Wade said. "[Rose] has to trust the doctors, trust the people around him to help him get back and trust his instincts when he gets back on the court. It's not gonna be easy right away, but he's a tough kid, he's from the city of Chicago and I think he's gonna be just fine."
The only things you get from looking back are a sore neck and a broken heart, but every time Wade comes home, he’s forced to do just that by people who ask him if he ever wonders what might’ve been had the Big Three joined forces with Rose during that fateful summer of 2010.
Thing is, the two-time NBA champion isn’t all that broken up about how things turned out.
"I've kind of moved on from that, understanding that it wasn't in the cards for me to be here," he said."“I had two chances at it in 2003 in the draft it didn’t happen and obviously 2010 and it didn't happen for various reasons. It doesn't take anything away from my love for Chicago."
Wade's love for his hometown pulls him back every offseason, though not as frequently as he'd like despite the fact that he maintains a home here.
"It's been about a total of a week in Chicago for this whole offseason. It's tough with my schedule," he said prior to an event for his Wade's World Foundation at UIC recently. "Before I got custody of my kids, I was here a lot because my boys were here, but now they're in Miami."
He is committed to making a difference in Chicago despite the fact that he's unable to make it home often. His foundation works with at-risk youths in the city to curb violence by promoting literacy, education and other life skills.
Wade said community outreach is key when it comes to showing kids there's a better future out there than what’s on the streets.
"I deal with a lot of kids because you see what’s out there for them and you want to kind of change the direction for them," he said. "It’s unfortunate that we have to deal with these crises in Chicago, but there are ways where we’re trying to do our job and redirection these kids so they don’t go down the same path."
It’s something that hits close to home for him, having been bullied himself as a kid.
"We all had moments where we were bullied," he said. "You look at the finished product, people are like oh no, no way, but everybody had a moment where they were bullied."
In addition to being a role model for inner-city youths, Wade has established himself as an NBA fashion icon. His hipster glasses and funky outfits at press conferences were the talk of the league last year.
"We all go through phases of styles and the nerd glasses have been done over and over and over again," he said. "This time it just went to another level. It's just social media at its best."
When asked what the next fashion trend in the NBA would be, Wade is coy.
"I haven't gotten that far yet," he said. "I always try to come up with something every year, so we'll see what comes out of the closet."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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