For Wade: LA, love, LeBron

Re­union at home with young daugh­ter sur­passes see­ing old pal James

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By Ira Win­der­man South Florida Sun Sen­tinel

PHOENIX — This had been sched­uled as a re­union trip from the mo­ment LeBron James moved on to the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers and Dwyane Wade de­cided to re­turn to the Mi­ami Heat for his “One Last Dance” 16th and fi­nal NBA sea­son.

But now even a best friend re­duced to sec­ondary pri­or­ity. Be­cause daddy is com­ing home. It has been nearly three weeks is since Wade last saw his daugh­ter, af­ter miss­ing seven games on pa­ter­nity leave. With Fri­day’s flight from Phoenix, it will mean a home­com­ing on the road.

“It’s jump off the plane, run right home,” Wade said of bond­ing time re­newed with wife Gabrielle Union and daugh­ter Kaavia James Dwyane Wade has re­unions on his mind this week­end in Los An­ge­les.

Union Wade in Los An­ge­les, where they have main­tained a sec­ondary res­i­dent for years. “I’ll def­i­nitely be ex­cited when those wheels hit the ground.”

With his daugh­ter de­liv­ered through sur­ro­gate in Cal­i­for­nia, this four-day run in Los An­ge­les against the Lak­ers and Clip­pers set up as the per­fect ex­tended visit be­fore Kaavia takes flight for the first time to South Florida around Christ­mas.

“I’ve been look­ing for­ward to it,” Wade said ahead of Fri­day’s game against the Phoenix Suns at Talk­ing Stick Re­sort Arena. “Of course, to me, it was tough for me to leave, af­ter be­ing gone for two weeks. I didn’t want to leave my daugh­ter be­cause I know I wasn’t go­ing to see her for a while.”

Hav­ing missed two weeks amid this un­even start for the Heat, Wade said he ap­pre­ci­ates the life­work bal­ance re­quired, es­pe­cially with the Heat with­out cen­ter Has­san

White­side, who is await­ing the birth of his first born.

“I’m not too far away from the team ho­tel,” he said, “so hope­fully I can make it back in time. But I def­i­nitely am go­ing to en­joy the spe­cial times with my fam­ily.”

Two weeks on, weeks off cer­tainly is not Wade’s pre­ferred ver­sion of fa­ther­hood.

“We’ve done ev­ery­thing -- FaceTime, video. It was def­i­nitely more for me,” he said of these in­ter­ven­ing days. “But she knows my voice. You could tell in the eyes. I def­i­nitely made sure when I was there that I talked to her a lot, let her hear my voice.

“So when I do talk to her on FaceTime or I do send a video, you can tell with her eyes that she def­i­nitely knows my voice.”

The first break from fam­ily will be Satur­day’s game against the Clip­pers. But the main course of the con­sec­u­tive games at Sta­ples Cen­ter will be Mon­day’s matchup against the Lak­ers and LeBron, af­ter miss­ing the first of the teams’ two meet­ings while on pa­ter­nity leave.

Wade, 36, said he plans

to sa­vor that evening with his for­mer Heat cham­pi­onship team­mate.

“For me,” he said, “when Kobe [Bryant] re­tired, the last time I got to play against him in LA, I waited on ... ev­ery­thing he had to do af­ter the game. He was still in the locker room, spent time with him. Be­cause I sa­vored it.

“It will be the same thing with LeBron, be­cause I’ll sa­vor this. We both will. We both had some amaz­ing mo­ments ver­sus each other, as com­peti­tors. But we ob­vi­ously had some great mo­ments as team­mates.”

James plans to play on be­yond this sea­son. Wade doesn’t. And it’s not as if there is any re­al­is­tic shot at a play­off meet­ing.

“We’re go­ing to be friends for­ever,” Wade said, “but this is the last time we play bas­ket­ball ver­sus each other. So we’ll en­joy it and then we’ll sa­vor it.”

LYNNE SLADKY/AP

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