“It’s not about the money.” Those were the words NBA All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh repeated simultaneously in their ESPN interview with Michael Wilbon on Wednesday. The two free agents will join forces next season as members of the Miami Heat after a week-long courtship that initially put them on teams from New York to Chicago.

Details of their expected contracts were not yet available but it is believed that both will sign for maximum deals. Bosh can sign a five-year, $96 million deal as an outright free agent, or his former team, the Toronto Raptors, can move Bosh in a sign-and-trade and give him the maximum deal of six years, $125 million.

Wade and Bosh may both take pay cuts, however, if the team can land star LeBron James in free agency. James is expected to announce his decision in an hour-long televised special on ESPN on Thursday night, July 8. When asked if acquiring James is still an option, Wade wasted no time in attempting to sway James’ decision.

“Of course we would love for Lebron to join Miami, who wouldn’t?” Wade said. “This decision right here is about winning. This is not about the money. We’re going to do everything possible to get the guys down here that we need to build a champion.”

Although the Heat currently only have two players on their roster—Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers—the addition of Bosh along with the resigning of Wade will be expected to boost them into a favorite in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
“I’m joining Mr. Wade in Miami,” Bosh said. “I’m fine—I think we’re both fine with the situation. We both wanted to play with each other and we have a golden opportunity to do that. We’re going to take advantage of it.”

Wade and Bosh will give the Heat two of the NBA’s top five players at their positions: Wade, an All-Star guard, and Bosh, an All-Star forward. Since Miami won the championship in 2006, the Heat have lost in the first round of the playoffs three of the last four seasons and missed the playoffs completely in the 2007 season. As a member of the Raptors, Bosh has never advanced past the first round of the playoffs in his seven-year career.

Now, as teammates, both players expect their fortunes to change. “I expect us to compete for a championship,” Bosh said.

The trio of Bosh, Wade and James arrived to the NBA as members of the 2003 draft class. Each player structured deals with their teams back in 2007 in attempt to have an opportunity to partner up after the 2010 free agency period.
With Wade and Bosh now in Miami, rumors of James joining them are expected to heat up.

Even if James declines to join Miami, the Heat’s off season plan of resigning Wade and adding a marquee free agent is already complete. Last month, the city went as far as to temporarily rename the popular Dade County “Wade County” in effort to persuade the Heat superstar from leaving.

After several recruiting efforts, the Miami plan was successfully completed with Wednesday’s announcement. “I’m back in Wade-County,” Wade said with a smile. “This is an unbelievable opportunity for me to play with someone of his caliber… It’s not about the money; it’s not about anything else except for winning.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO