Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade has purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz and hopes to take on a hands-on role within the organization alongside governor Ryan Smith, who took over as the NBA franchise's majority owner in December.
Wade told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski he's excited to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Grant Hill in transitioning from All-Star player to an executive role:
"This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA. I've seen Shaq do it in Sacramento. I've seen Grant Hill do it in Atlanta. I've seen Jordan do it in Charlotte. If this partnership is going to be anything like my relationship is with Ryan, there are going to be a lot of things that I'll want to be involved in.
"... Unfortunately, people in my community don't get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity. To make real change, this is where you have to be–at the top—and Ryan knows that. I'm thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills."
Smith purchased majority ownership in the Jazz from the Miller family for $1.66 billion. The sides reached the agreement in October, and it was formally approved by the NBA's Board of Governors in December.
He told Wojnarowski they've been in contact with Wade pretty much from the moment the deal was finalized about finding a way to get him involved:
"Dwyane has had a chance to be part of so many different [ownership] groups if he wanted that. We've basically been in discussion from the time we closed on the team on how we can get this done. Like I run my tech business, you want the brightest people around.
"There is a broad picture here. It's much more than just basketball. This league is the biggest platform that there is, and we ran toward that. This isn't a league where we came in saying, 'Hey, this has gone somewhere we're not comfortable with.' This is actually what we signed up for. We're the newest ownership group. We're the youngest. Dwyane's a perfect fit.
"It wasn't like we wanted more partners; that wasn't what we were trying to do. I want to work with Dwyane on and off the court, on the business side, and so do our partners—because of who he is as a human being and what he's accomplished. Those are the kinds of people you want around."
On the court, Wade was one of the most decorated players of the generation. He spent 14-and-a-half of his 16 seasons with the Heat, winning three championships and being selected to 13 All-Star teams. He's a future first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
Heat governor Micky Arison confirmed they'd offered the star guard a chance to join their ownership group following his 2019 retirement.
"I want to congratulate Dwyane on his recent announcement," Arison wrote on Twitter. "We had discussed having him join our ownership group after his retirement but he was not prepared to commit at the time. Of course, I am disappointed that he didn't reconsider. Having said that I wish him good luck and much success with the Jazz. To me, Dwyane will always be a Heat lifer."
Wade explained to Woj his love for the Heat organization and its fans "goes nowhere," but he decided to go in a different direction for the "next phase of my life as an investor, a businessman, an entrepreneur."
In the official announcement, the 39-year-old Chicago native described how the Jazz ownership group matched his "vision and values" for the future.
"Not only is this group focused on building a championship franchise, they are also committed to using their platform to do good and actively create a more inclusive, equitable world," Wade said. "We share a lot of the same goals and are trying to go the same places in life."
He joins the Jazz at an exciting time in the organization's history. They sit atop the Western Conference with an NBA-best 41-14 record, establishing themselves as a legitimate championship contender this year, and their two cornerstones, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, are each signed to long-term contracts.
Adding Wade to the ownership group could help the team become an even more intriguing destination for free agents as it looks to become a perennial title hopeful in the years ahead.