Dwyane Wade opens up on what really pushed him to leave the Heat

Published Feb. 15, 2017 6:11 a.m. ET

Dwyane Wade spent his first 13 years in the NBA with the Miami Heat, helping them win three titles and becoming the franchise’s cornerstone player. Then all that goodwill ended in a flash for Flash and Heat fans last summer, when he abruptly left Miami to join his hometown Chicago Bulls.

At his introductory new conference in July, Wade said the fact Heat president Pat Riley never reached out to him during free agency didn’t affect him.

“I couldn't concern myself or worry about someone reaching out to me or not reaching out to me,” he said at his introductory Bulls news conference last July. “That's [wasn't] why I made the decision. It wasn't because he didn't reach out to me. How petty is that? I wasn't looking for Pat to reach out to me. That wasn't the focus of mine. … My heart was telling me to go back home.”

Fast-forward six months, and the 35-year-old guard acknowledged Riley’s silence actually loomed large in his decision, opening up on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski.

“I did feel at the end of the day it's Micky Arison's team but it's Pat's show,” Wade told Wojnarowski, via the Miami Herald. “I love Pat and I know he loves me. The fact that we didn't talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn't show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.

“At the end of the day, I didn't hear from the guy I needed to. I expressed this to him later. That right there hurt me. It showed me... it was time to remove myself from the situation.... It's a business. But I'm human as well. I was waiting for him to step up and meet me, call me, do something and it just never happened. That's not the Pat I know. You can find me quicker than anybody. You want to be wanted. Everyone wants to be wanted. I didn't feel like I was wanted from the person I wanted to be wanted from…. I was waiting for him to step up and meet me somewhere. Call me. Do something. It just never happened. That's not Pat. That's not the Pat I know.”

Riley likely was hesitant to commit long-term money to an aging guard who has a history of knee trouble. Wade, who is making a career-low 43 percent of his shots from the floor this season, eventually agreed to a two-year, $47 million deal with the Bulls.