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Wade back in Miami as free-agent wait continues

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wade_miami_heat_0.jpg By Tim Reynolds
July 5, 2010


Miami, FL — Heat fans missed a chance to make their case to Dwyane Wade on Monday.

No big deal. Micky Arison did it for them.

As Wade moved closer to deciding his future, he returned to Miami and was seen entering the team’s arena with team owner Arison, who wants to pay the six-time All-Star around $127 million for the next six seasons. The day started with a glitch—fans were told to show up at the wrong part of Miami’s airport to greet Wade—but Heat officials remained optimistic their star player isn’t going anywhere.

For his part, Wade was still contemplating his future.

“Not there yet,” Wade’s agent, Henry Thomas, said Monday.

Thomas represents Wade and Chris Bosh, two-thirds of the triumverate that’s driving this unprecedented free-agent period, along with two-time MVP LeBron James.

There’s speculation that the megastars will announce their decisions soon, especially after all three spent the latter part of last week hearing sales pitches from plenty of clubs.

Wade said last week that the decision wouldn’t be simple, a stance Thomas reiterated on both his and Bosh’s behalf Monday.

“They want to feel like they have evaluated everything about each situation,” Thomas wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “It is fair to say, that the decision for both has been harder than either imagined.”

For fans, just seeing Wade on Monday was harder than they imagined.

The word went out early in the morning. Show up at 8 a.m. and welcome Wade back to South Florida, fans were told.

So they did.

Right time. Wrong location.

Instead of flying on a private jet, Wade took a commercial flight from Charleston, S.C., into one of Miami International Airport’s main terminals. So about 50 Heat fans, as well as a handful of team employees, left without a glimpse of Wade.

“He’ll hear that we were here,” said 20-year-old fan David Figueroa. “That’s enough, right?”

Wade’s representatives confirmed that the 28-year-old guard was aware of the gathering, albeit after he left the airport.

The Heat utilized Facebook and Twitter around 12:50 a.m. Monday to rally fans. Buzz grew quickly, and some fans were in place—the wrong place, unknowingly—by 7 a.m. An employee at the Signature Air facility at the airport said staff typically is told when a high-profile person like Wade is arriving, and that transportation for him is usually arranged ahead of time.

That wasn’t the case Monday. And by the time word arrived that Wade was back in Miami, he’d already left the airport.

“Bad information,” Heat executive vice president and chief marketing officer Michael McCullough apologetically told the sign-waving group.

Wade is scheduled to appear at a youth basketball camp about 30 minutes north of Miami on Tuesday, plus take questions with Alonzo Mourning about their charity weekend later this month. Hundreds of well-wishers are expected there, including dozens of children who are working on a “special” presentation for the 2006 NBA finals MVP.

Many of those well-wishers will be Heat employees. The organization chartered four buses to take about 200 staffers to a surprise birthday party for free agent Udonis Haslem last month, and will take a similar approach with Wade’s event on Tuesday.

Before arriving Monday—in Miami-Wade County, officially, until July 8 by order of the county commissioners—Wade had been in Chicago for the first rounds of meetings in free-agent mania. He had formal sit-downs with the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and the Chicago Bulls (twice), plus an informal chat with the Heat.

Although Wade often has said he would like to remain in Miami, provided the team’s roster is upgraded to his liking, tension is clearly high around 601 Biscayne Blvd., the Heat’s home address.

Forget June 20, 2006, the day Miami won its NBA title, as the defining day for the franchise.

No, July 8, 2010—the first day of this free-agent signing period—could be the day that shapes the Heat for years to come.

“We love him,” McCullough said. “We’re not the only ones, and we hope that he comes back. … It’s time for him to make a decision, and we want to help him make that decision by showing him all the support he has from fans in South Florida and around the world.”

•  NBA News Archive Index:
2010, 2009
•  NBA Tickets




 







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