I sat in LeBron’s seat and asked Dwyane Wade if he remembered shooting 97 free throws in the 2006 NBA Finals.
Some insight into how the morning of a game day looks for NBA teams and media.
In the morning of every home game in the NBA, both teams typically have a shootaround in the morning where the teams have some sort of mini practice on the court of the game that night.
Before or after the shootaround, teams typically will carve out time for media availability for the head coach and players. Sometimes it is a free-for-all as reporters talk to players individually, and sometimes it is planned out which players talk to the media by the team’s PR department.
On the morning of November 11th, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in Dallas and LeBron made his way out of the locker room to speak to the media. But I didn’t want to talk with James, I wanted to chat with Dwyane Wade.
Wade and the city of Dallas have an interesting relationship.
In 2006, Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat marched to the NBA Finals to meet Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks. It was finally time for Nowitzki to bring a championship to the city of Dallas after averaging over 26 points and 9 rebounds that season.
Except the Heat (and some say the NBA) had other plans.
The Heat won the series 4-2 and took a title back to the city of Miami. Even though Wade averaged over 34 points a game in the series, he most notably attempted 97 free throws over the course of those six Finals games. Something that has never been forgotten by fans in Dallas ever since.
In 2011, the Mavericks got their revenge on Wade as Nowitzki led the Mavericks past Wade, LeBron and the Heat for their first championship in franchise history.
Back to present day, I walked into the visitor’s locker room to find the Cavs all on their phones spread out in the room.
Isaiah Thomas was buried in his phone in the corner as soon as you walked in and Iman Shumpert was singing lines to a rap song he was listening to. On the other side of the locker room was Korver, Crowder and the other Cavs, including Dwyane Wade.
After shaking Crowder’s hand and welcoming him back to Dallas, I made my way to Wade and asked for a few questions in which he graciously agreed.
So I sat in the open seat beside of him.
Since most of the media was outside talking to LeBron James, it was a quiet time to talk to Wade about the previous Finals in Dallas.
“Of course 2006,” Wade said when I asked him which year he thinks of first when he walks into the American Airlines Center.
My next question is what struck a chord.
“Do you remember how many free throws you attempted in that series?” I asked.
“Nah, a lot though,” Wade quickly said back. But then he thought about it more and continued, “Why you asking about my free throws? What you trying to get some controversy going? Why you ask about my free throws?”
It was a simple question. I simply wanted to know if he remembered shooting over 90 free throws in the Finals and he obviously took exception to that.
As he finished answering that question, LeBron James walks over to me, stares, puts his thumb up and says “up”.
I was sitting in LeBron’s seat.
I realized I was sitting in his seat and started to apologize when he interrupted and said “Get up”.
So I did what any human being would probably do in that situation. I got up.
LeBron sat down and asked Wade, “What he asking about?”
Wade, responding to James, responded with, “He asked about 2006 when I was on the free throw line a lot,”
Lebron looks into my soul and says “You still talking about that s***?”
It was a simple question and I didn’t back down. I responded by saying it was a simple question on if Dwyane remembered it. That was it. But Wade wasn’t done yet.
“You still believe I didn’t get fouled as much as I did?” Wade asked me.
I said the same thing that I said before, “it was just a question on if you remembered,” I said.
“Nope. That was a long time ago,” Wade begrudgingly answered. “How many did I shoot?”
More from The Smoking Cuban
- Dallas Mavericks trade grade: Josh Richardson shipped to Boston
- Dallas Mavericks trade Josh Richardson to the Boston Celtics
- Dallas Mavericks: How Lakers acquiring Russell Westbrook impacts Dallas
- Mavericks do not make trade on draft night: Pressure builds for free agency
- 2021 NBA Draft results: See all 60 picks from draft night here
When I responded with “96, 97”, Wade responded with, “I earned them all”.
Some reporters would have just walked out or left him alone, but I hung around and continued to talk to him about his memories coming back to Dallas and playing against Dirk Nowitzki.
For a player in Nowitzki that stopped him from getting another ring, Wade realizes Nowitzki is one of the greatest to ever do it.
“Playing against one of the greatest. When he gets done, Hall of Fame player. One of the greatest to play the game. Every moment, especially when you get to the end of a guy’s career and you get a chance to play against him. You know it’s a special moment in the history of the game,” Wade said about playing Dirk.
You can catch LeBron, Wade and the Cavs play Dirk and the Mavericks tonight at 7:30 PM CT.