Arvia: Two-minute Wade barely gets feet wet
PHIL ARVIA firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5949 April 13, 2012 8:20PM
Heat guard Dwyane Wade. | File photo
Updated: May 16, 2012 8:09AM
When it comes to interviews, I’ve always felt better as a marathoner rather than a sprinter.
Still, a P.R. flak’s pitch stirred my competitive juices. A two-minute one-on-one with Dwyane Wade? Sure.
The setup was Wade’s Wednesday evening news conference promoting a literacy program in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood. Wade’s handlers set aside 15 minutes for one-on-ones. Seven media outlets bit. Thus, two minutes each.
I prepared a list of questions — no time for warming him up with softballs:
How screwed is Ozzie Guillen in Miami? (Wade is a White Sox fan, and he and Guillen both earn their livings now in Miami, where Guillen was forced to apologize last week for some pro-Castro comments.)
What’s the deal with Eddy Curry? (Curry and Wade played against each other in high school, and Curry has failed to resuscitate his career after lucking into a spot on the talent-laden Heat roster.)
Yeah, but didn’t you think you and Juwan Howard could get a little more Chicago pride and professionalism out of Eddy? (Anticipating a non-answer, I’d follow by invoking Chicago, and the old-pro approach of Howard, a CVS graduate.)
Will you play in the Olympics this year if asked? (Earlier that day, in Miami, Wade was asked about and endorsed the notion of being paid to play in the Olympics.)
Will you get paid to do it? (Hoping for a yes or no answer here.)
What do you think the average American thinks about you wanting to get paid? (This was about 8:30 p.m. At 9:39 p.m., about 25 minutes after leaving the news conference, Wade tweeted his first efforts to back away from his earlier statements.)
Given your nephew recently was a shooting victim, do you think you and other NBA stars need to do more concrete things to curb violence in your communities? (My Phil Kadner question. My colleague wrote on April 3 about Derrick Rose’s need to do more about the violence in Englewood.)
What do you think of this for a public service ad?: “I’m Dwyane Wade, and I never want to see anyone running from the cops in my shoes.” (This was a line I suggested Kadner use in the D-Ro column.)
There were four more I’d not get to.
When my two minutes arrived, I was ushered into an unadorned room in which Wade, still in the Heat warmups he wore on the flight from Miami, stood. The flak was there as well, eyeing her watch.
“Pat Disabato says ‘hi,’ ” I said.
“That’s my guy,” Wade said of my colleague and longtime preps guru. “Tell him I said ‘hi’ back.”
“OK,” I said. “I’ve got two minutes. No screwing around. First question:”
On Guillen: “Oh, he’s — I don’t know. I’ve turned my TV off, so I really haven’t heard much about it. I’m focused on this season, and we’ve got a game every day, it seems like.”
On Curry: “Eddy’s working hard, man. A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is for him to get back to — he’s had a lot of things go on in his personal life — for him to get back to really enjoying the game of basketball. I think he’s working hard. Obviously, we want him on the court. When the time comes, maybe he can be there to help us win a championship.”
On the Chicago pride angle: “Well, it’s easier said than done, obviously. He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s still trying to learn the culture in Miami, still trying to learn the way that we play. One thing I can say about him is he’s worked very hard. From Day 1, he’s come in — that’s all you want to see. You never know when your opportunity will come.”
On playing in the Olympics: “I would hope so. The biggest thing is all about health. With this season, I’m just going to take it one game at a time, one day at a time. It’d be an honor to play once again, for my last time, as I’m in my 30s. So we’ll see.”
On getting paid: “No.”
On whether the desire to be paid will be understood: “I’m not really concerned with that statement or whatever. I’m really here to focus on community, to focus on what’s important. A lot of things that you say are always taken different ways.”
The flak interjects, “Final question.” I scan the list for my favorite of those that remain, silently cursing the Disabato small talk.
I settle on the public service announcement: “I like it. I don’t want to see anybody running from the cops, period. You think about the police, and first you think about they’re here to protect and serve. Secondly, don’t be doing no wrong where you’ve got to run from them. So, I like it.”
I shut off the recorder. I explain I wanted to ask about his nephew. An unseen hand turns my shoulder toward the door. As I leave, Wade eyes my jacket and says, “Nice leather.” I’m out the door, thinking, “His P.R. training is good. Say something nice to the reporter, he’ll go easy on you.”
If only I had more time.