CANNES — An emotional Dwyane Wade revealed how a quirky ritual brought him closer to his former Miami Heat teammates and rivals in the NBA in his final season.
The NBA all-star, who retired this year, brought down the house at Cannes Lions on Tuesday when he shared details of his tradition of trading jerseys with fellow ballers like LeBron James, Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki.
“I’ve been able to swap jerseys with some of the guys I play against,” said Wade, who played 16 years in the NBA. “We play in such a league where guys tell each other ‘don’t give them their roses’ when they are playing together, when they are competitors. But that was a cool a moment for a lot of guys to share what their feelings are for each other and the impact that we’ve made on each other’s careers and lives.”
Wade said his favorite jersey exchange was the last game of the season when he exchanged jerseys with all of his teammates.
“All throughout this year it was all about me. I’m a team player. I was a little uncomfortable with it,” Wade said. “For me to be able to experience with my teammates on the court during the game, that made my day.”
As Wade was speaking, a baby was crying.
“That may be my daughter,” he said to laughter and applause. “She hears me talking. I’m over here.”
Wade also had a “meaningful” jersey swap with his eldest son, Zaire, who plays high school basketball.
“I was a father at 19 years old, a young kid in college, not knowing what the future held for me. He became my purpose,” Wade said. “To have things come full circle and to sit there and exchange jerseys with him at my last game in Miami, that right there was a full circle moment for me that was so cool.”
Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser worked with Wade on a tear-jerker of an ad campaign, in which the basketball player is gifted with mementos from people whose lives he impacted beyond the court.
One woman gave Wade her brother’s basketball jersey. Her brother was Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the Parkland, Florida massacre. The emotional moment was to thank Wade, who was there to support Oliver’s family during the difficult time. Wade wrote Oliver’s name on his sneakers and wore them during games. He also paid tribute to the 17-year-old fan with a special memorial.
“We all have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to my community, to people who look like me, talk like me, grew up like me,” Wade offered. “We are the faces and the voice of the ones whose voices are muted.”
Before wrapping up the talk, Wade gave a shout-out to several of his family members who were on hand, including his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, who stood up during the talk and received a rousing round of applause.
“My wife is here, and my wife is an actress. She’s more famous than I am,” he said. “My job is to support my wife and her career because her career is taking off.”
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