Elton Brand, also a fan of the new troika, brings up another point: "I
heard people saying they're being promoted like Larry, Magic and Michael, but I
see it as a totally different dynamic. Larry and Magic were battling each other
every year for rings, and then Michael came along and took the ring. These
three guys came in together."
Came in together
and are hanging together. Back in the day, NBA stars were rivals, if not
enemies. Johnson and Jordan were barely on speaking terms for years. Bird
almost came to blows with Magic in 1979 and tried to coldcock Julius Erving in
'84. Bird met Jordan, then a North Carolina hotshot, during warmups before a
1984 exhibition game between the U.S. Olympic team and NBA stars. Jordan's ball
rolled down the court to where Bird was shooting. Bird picked it up, looked at
Jordan, then punted the ball over his head.
Not these three,
who rarely go more than a few days, if not a few hours, without contact.
Anthony e-mails Wade. Wade text-messages James. James leaves cell messages for
Anthony. They dubbed themselves Our Family, which was extended to include Paul
and Hawks guard Joe Johnson in Japan. "Wherever you saw one of us, you saw
all of us," says Wade. Days were spent on the court. Nights were spent at
the card table, playing bourr�, a cross between spades and poker. "We hung
out and talked about the future of the league and our place in it," says
Wade. "We call it Our Family of the Young Guys because we're the next guys
to take the torch. Hopefully [ Paul and Johnson] can come along with us and
change the game."
Change the game?
Look, we admit it needs some changing. Fundamentals are in decline, the effort
isn't always A-plus, and players have been known to spontaneously reenact an
episode of Cops. But we at the NBA prefer to focus on the positives, like our
three young stars. We suggest that you make Our Family part of your family.
lovable, or your money back
PEOPLE WANT to compare the 6'4" Wade with Jordan, but they've got it wrong.
Yes, he has a lot of MJ in him, but with ample parts Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.
"His passing skill is what really surprised me," says Brand, another
member of the U.S. team at the worlds. "He's an amazing playmaker. All I
had to do was drop [the ball] in the basket."
Speaking to Wade's
laconic demeanor, James calls him "the quiet assassin leader."
Krzyzewski says, "Even though Dwyane's not that old, he has a maturity
Wade is also humble (he says his sister Tragil is his role model); beautiful
(according to the list makers at People) and at ease in front of the camera.
Here he is filming a T-Mobile commercial in Santa Monica, by the pool of the
Viceroy hotel, with boom mikes, catered food and a cast of busty extras in
bikinis portraying busty women in bikinis. Wade and Barkley are seated at a
gazebo, as if eating breakfast. The setup: Barkley boasts that he is "a
legend, an icon" compared with the young turk Wade. Waitresses scamper to
the table, fawn over Wade and then turn to Barkley and say, "You must be
very proud of your son." Zing.
during the filming is that Wade can act, not just for-an-athlete act. He
improvises gestures, ad-libs lines and throws himself into the scene. His
cousin Antoine Wade, standing nearby, laughs when told that Dwyane looks like a
natural. "Yeah, he loves to hear that," says Antoine. "But he took
acting classes at Marquette, and he's practicing all the time." Think of
that: Wade's working to make your commercial breaks more entertaining.
Five more reasons
to embrace him.
1) He's not a
product of shoe camps and talent brokers. Wade didn't make the Richards High
varsity in Oak Lawn, Ill., until he was a junior and was seriously recruited by
only three Division I colleges.