Wade has regard for—and a relationship with—Bryant, enough that he commonly refers to the Lakers great as "Kob." Still, Wade acknowledged that he had a respectful "difference of opinion" with Bryant about the stand that Heat players took for slain teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.
In a piece called "The Last Quarter," in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, author Ben McGrath brought up LeBron James, Wade and the rest of the Heat players posing in hoodies with heads bowed and posting the photo online.
McGrath described Bryant as "nonplussed" and printed this response (via Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead):
I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, just because I'm African-American. That argument doesn't make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and as a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well, if we've progressed as a society, then you don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African-American. You sit and listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won't assert myself.
Before Friday's game in Detroit, which Wade missed with a sore hamstring, the Heat guard disputed the implication that Martin's race was the overriding factor in the team's decision to pose for the photo. He said that proximity also played a part. While Martin was killed in Central Florida, he grew up in the Miami area.
"It was our backyard, and being in our backyard, being something that a lot of guys on this team—not only growing up in the kind of environment that Trayvon was in—but also having young boys," Wade told Bleacher Report. "Knowing that he is a big fan of the Miami Heat. That is something that we got behind. As a team. I can't even say the organization. It was as a team. We got behind it. And it was more so that than the color of his skin."
Wade, James and Chris Bosh have not been afraid to step out of the athletic arena and express their opinions. James recently spoke of his willingness, in reference to the advertisement that he appeared in at President Obama's request, to promote the Affordable Care Act.
"There's a lot of causes that go on, that players get behind, and it's not all black causes," Wade said. "You know what I mean? Most of the causes have something to do with something that's near and dear to you. Like Chris [Bosh] writing on his shoe earlier in the year, because his wife is Venezuelan."
Bosh wrote "SOS Venezuela," which is seen sprayed and stickered on cars all over South Florida, where the large Venezuelan community is concerned about the conditions back home.
"It's the same kind of thing," Wade said. "So it's just a difference of opinion."
Following Wade's comments, Bryant added some context to the aforementioned comments on Friday, possibly addressing Wade in the process.
Critical or not. We've had a ton of convo the last few days about a BIG issue. That's always a good thing. Luv to ALL who tweeted thoughts— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 29, 2014
Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.