MIAMI – From Dwyane Wade’s point of view, the Los Angeles’ Lakers second major acquisition of the offseason didn’t surprise him. Dwight Howard-to-LA was always on the backburner.
It was the first one — the acquisition of Steve Nash — that caught him off guard.
“They’re making a play for a championship,” Wade told SheridanHoops.com Saturday on his nationwide book-signing tour.
“It’s not a surprising move that Dwight Howard went over there. I was kinda surprised to see Steve Nash. That was the one that was surprising.”
Call it The Great Impending Collision. We all expect to see it in mid-June, correct?
Heat vs. Lakers in the NBA Finals.
L.A.’s Big Three (Kobe Bryant, Howard and Nash) vs. Miami’s Big Three (Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh). It’s on.
“They’re putting themselves in position to compete for a championship,” Wade said. “Same thing we did in 2010.”
As Wade talked, fans periodically cheered. There was the “Let’s Go Heat!” chant, the “D-Wade!” chant, and the “We Love Wade!” chant. The latter most accurately captured the spirit of the day.
James might be the most popular Miami Heat player, but Wade, despite that rough patch during the Indiana playoff series, remains the most beloved. Saturday served as yet another example.
Even before Wade was visible, several hundred Heat fans, young and old, broke out into an “M-V-P!” chant that briefly rattled the rafters at the Sports Authority sporting goods store at Dolphin Mall in southwest Miami.
“I’m a Lakers fan,” one youthful attendee was overheard saying, “but…”
The crowd, which numbered around 3,000, maybe more, was gathered to have Wade, the two-time NBA champion turned author, sign his book, “A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball.”
Most of the fans, who formed a line that snaked throughout the store and into the parking lot, were teenagers. That pleased Wade greatly.
“I like to see a lot of kids and a lot of youth out here because with my foundation we focus on literacy, we focus on reading, so if I can get the kids to pick up my book and read it then we’ve done something to get them back on the path we need to be on,” he said.
The book signing began at 3 p.m., but the first fans began lining up at 8 a.m.
And this was Saturday afternoon in football-crazed South Florida, at a time when the University of Miami football team was playing at 15th-ranked Kansas State.
It was a similar scene at a Miami bookstore on Sunday, when the Miami Dolphins, the bedrock of the South Florida sports scene, were playing their season opener at Houston.
And both of those scenes were a repeat of Thursday in Fort Lauderdale.
At all three locales, Wade was only scheduled to sign 800 books. Fans had to go online to get a voucher. Strict orders accompanied the voucher – no chit-chat, only one photo, Wade will only sign the book, keep it moving – but those rules failed miserably.
The same was true in New York, where the tour began. It will probably be true in Atlanta, today’s stop. And it’ll probably be true when the tour continues in his hometown of Chicago, goes on to Milwaukee and concludes in Los Angeles.
In South Florida, Wade happily chatted it up with fans, posed for multiple photos and signed more than books. That’s why they love him. It’s also why Wade, fully recovered from off-season knee surgery, is now fatigued in a different part of his body — writer’s cramp in the shoulder.
“The hand and wrist are good,” he said with a smile. “After a while your shoulder gets tired.
“But I appreciate the support from fans in Miami. In Fort Lauderdale (Friday night) going to the book signing there were 800 people who had books but there were way more people there. Just to get their support, it was great.”
As for the defending champion Heat, Wade is excited to start training camp on Sept. 29, especially with Miami’s new acquisitions of guard Ray Allen and forward Rashard Lewis. He said coach Erik Spoelstra feels the same way.
“I’m real happy with the team we have,” Wade said. “I felt it was a very good team we had last year, and we got better this summer…We have a lot of veteran guys and I think for a coach you would want to coach a team like this, so I think coach Spo is in a good position to coach a bunch of veteran guys who will still understand we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
As for the Heat-Lakers matchup in the Finals, Wade seemed happy the Lakers have formed their own Big Three. But he’s taking the wait-and-see approach.
“Nothing is guaranteed to any one of us,” he said. “There’s a lot of good teams in the league, but this will make it very competitive.”