The Miami Heat are doing their best to extend Dwyane Wade’s career at least another four games, fighting nightly to land one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots. But Wade will be honest with you and admit he’s thinking about what the final time wearing a jersey will be like with less than a month left in the regular season.
“I've been preparing for it. I'm as ready as I can be for it,” he says. “But I still want to be able to play well. I still want to continue to have those moments where I have those flashbacks.”
In his 16th and final season, Wade’s been averaging 14.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 4.1 APG while providing plenty of flashbacks to his glory days. It’s a testament to his perseverance from injuries that slowed him down in previous seasons, and his focus to being in the best physical shape possible when your typical 37-year-old gave up the grind long ago. Low-key, it’s also so his wife, Gabrielle Union, has a lot less ammo when she’s sitting courtside and letting Wade have it.
“I heckle him during games,” says Union. “I like to think that that motivates [him].”
During a recent off day, we talked to the future Hall of Famer and his equally famous significant other exclusively after they teamed up to film a Gatorade Zero commercial that’s all about competition. The NBA’s most popular couple told us how Union has pushed Wade to take his fitness to new levels, how the two are preparing for his final game in a Heat uniform where the tears will be flowing, and what DWade will be doing this time next year when he’s retired.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Give me an idea of how physical things got in the commercial.
Dwyane: I beat her, I beat her in everything.
Gabrielle: No. (Laughs) Lies. All lies. All lies.
Dwyane: Nah, it was great. We had an opportunity to kind of be ourselves a little bit. We're both very competitive people and whatever it is in life, especially in the gym. Normally, we're on the opposite ends of the each other but today we was face to face. So, it was cool to kind of have that playful banter back and forth.
What are we talking about? Are we talking about push-ups competitions? Or we talking about like pull-up competitions? Sprints?
Gabrielle: We did push-ups, pull-ups, like SoulCycle type of thing. Uh...what else we do?
Dwyane: We did treadmill. We did a little basketball thing. We did...
Gabrielle: Jump rope.
Dwyane: Yeah, we did jump rope. We did stretching. Surprisingly, I'm more flexible. But everything was about one-upping each other. Who can do it the best. So, you know, she had her strengths. And I had mine.
I guess everyone would expect that Dwyane would be the fitness king in this kind of competition. But Gabrielle, what are some of the things that you can kick Dwyane's ass in?
Dwyane: Jump rope.
Gabrielle: Oh. Jump rope. Who knew that you're not good at jump rope? What else?
Dwyane: That's about it.
Gabrielle: OK. Realistically. Jump rope. I walk amazing on the treadmill. Great walker. Uh, what else was I reasonable at? He's got some shoulder and knee-mobility issues.
Do you guys work out regularly together at all? Like during the off-season or during down time?
Gabrielle: We work out at the same time. But we don't really work out together. We have different goals.
So I was going to ask what's the best part of working out together. But since you don't really do that what was the best part of working out together for this commercial? The competition aspect?
Dwyane: Well, yeah. I think what's great is either we trying or when we're not trying we push each other. And today, obviously, being together on set, this is the first thing that we kind of done at this capacity. I think for me and her it was cool to be a part of launching Gatorade Zero. And what it means for my wife who's an athlete. A different athlete than me. But what it means to be an athlete. And where I'm going eventually once I get done playing basketball. I think we just had fun. It was competitive, but it was cool.
Gabrielle, are there ways that you've helped Dwyane become a better athlete over your time together? Is there a tip you ever gave him or able to push him to certain things, add certain things to his repertoire?
Gabrielle: I mean, no. I introduced him to Pilates. So there was a bit of stretch of Pilates that we did together. I started doing Pilates and stuck with it. And then he took that baton and got into yoga. So he kind of surpassed me in that capacity. I feel like that all my trash talk—I heckle him during games—I like to think that that motivates you, babe. Does that motivate you, babe?
Dwyane: Yeah. You know what, I think the thing for most of our relationship, we're very fit. But the moment when either one of us get out of that fit zone we give each other that look. Me and my wife were going to work out every day when the summer was here and when I wasn't [feeling like it] she gave me that look one day, like, "So you just ain't gonna go to the gym with me today?" Like, you know, my love handles started to pack on. So, it's that, too. We kind of push each other to get in the gym and go a little harder because we want to make sure that we look the way that we looked when we [promised] each other.
Dwyane, you're heading towards the finish line here. As you wind down your final days in the NBA, are you really enjoying the attention that you're getting? What are the feelings when you get showered with lots of attention?
Dwyane: Yeah. I think it's a mix of different emotions. I think, obviously, it's so dope. It's so cool to be able to go to different arenas, outside of your home arena and be able to get the love and ovation that I've been able to receive. At times too, when you're trying to prepare for a game and you get to a city layover, when you got practice back to back it becomes a full-time job. Some games we be getting our butt kicked and I get to the bench, and I gotta fix my face a little bit, because I got people with signs, or they waving to get my attention, because it’s maybe their last time they see me play basketball. It's been different but these are, what my wife likes to say, this is a high-class climax.
"I'm sure I won't be the only one crying in the stands. Brooklyn has always showed a lot of love to him. I think that we'll all be crying." — GABRIELLE UNION
Have you allowed yourself yet to think about what the final game is going to be like? Have you gotten there mentally, emotionally yet?
Dwyane: Yeah, I guess. I’ve been going through this process and it’s been some cool moments throughout already. Whether it's my last game in Chicago or whether it's playing LeBron [James] the last time in the Staples Center. Or whether it's going to Marquette to have a Dwyane Wade Day. Or playing in the Garden. It's so many moments that's just been so dope and so cool. And I know my last game in Miami is gonna be emotional and all those things. And my last game period. I've been preparing for it. I'm as ready as I can be for it. But I still want to be able to play well. I still want to continue to have those moments where I have those flashbacks.
Gabrielle, what is his last game is going to be like for you? Have you allowed yourself to think about what that day is gonna be like?
Gabrielle: Um, you know what? Your last game is in Brooklyn. And Brooklyn...there is something about Brooklyn, and the way he plays in Barclays. So in Barclays, they always have so much love for him and it's always so joyous and welcoming to him. So I can't imagine what it will be like for his last game. I'm sure I won't be the only one crying in the stands. Brooklyn has always showed a lot of love to him. I think that we'll all be crying.
Dwyane, what do you think you will be doing around this time next year? Have you given that serious thought? Do you have a plan set in stone yet? Do you have some things cooking?
Dwyane: Well, hopefully I'm doing the same thing. Hopefully, I'm on set of a Gatorade commercial. Hopefully it's a Dwyane and Gabrielle kind of competition. But I don't know. I don't have all the answers for then. I don't want to. Everything that's gonna happen will come. I'mma prepare for it as much as I can as an active athlete and I will continue when I'm done. But I would love to be sitting on set talking with you next year this exact same time. That would be great.
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe acting is in your future.
Dwyane: No, no, no.
No? Well listen, there is Space Jam 2 supposedly coming out soon. I'm sure LeBron can find a role for you someplace.
Dwyane: Well, I mean I would do something like that.
Gabrielle: I thought you said you were gonna enjoy playing my love interest in L.A's Finest.
Dwyane: I did. But y'all haven't written me in yet.