Agent: Dwyane Wade gets booing
It wasn't until recently that Dwyane Wade started getting booed inside the United Center, and that volume is likely to hit new decibels during the Eastern Conference finals.
Suddenly, Wade transformed from a beloved local product who starred at Richards High School and continued to give generous amounts of time and money to the community throughout his NBA career, to Public Enemy No. 1 -- or at least 1-A.
"It doesn't bother him," said Wade's Chicago-based agent, Henry Thomas. "He totally understands it.
"He understood after free agency last summer that the reception was different than the one he would receive in the past. He gets it. In some sense, it's a sign of respect. He understands the kind of reception he gets now. He's in another uniform."
According to Thomas, Wade nearly changed uniforms last summer.
"I think it was very close," Thomas said. "We obviously -- before the process started -- we talked about how we were going to handle it. Once we began and once the presentations were made, the Bulls' presentation was as good as any -- if not better.
"The decision became a lot more difficult than he imagined how it would be. Obviously for him the Chicago one was special because he grew up here."
Thomas said the Bulls' past and future made an impact on Wade.
"As a young kid, he idolized Michael [Jordan] and all those [championship Bulls] teams," Thomas said. "I know when we went in for the presentation, they had a uniform with his name and number on it. As a kid growing up here you dreamed of having that uniform on. For that reason it was difficult.
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"He had -- and has -- a tremendous amount of respect for the way the organization has developed and built a team as competitive as it is right now. Obviously some very significant pieces were already in place. There were a lot of elements to the Bulls' opportunity that were extremely attractive. It was not an easy decision."
Just as Wade said last summer, Thomas believes the children helped through Wade's vast charitable endeavors look at him as one of their own, rather than the enemy.
"Honestly, most of the kids probably see a guy who came out of the city and came out of an environment similar to the one they're in and who has gone on to have great success playing his particular sport," Thomas said. "One thing he tries to convey through his programs and events and camps back here is that while he's had success as a pro basketball player, success comes in a lot of different forms.
"He tries to encourage kids to pursue whatever interests they have, not to put all of their eggs in a pro athlete basket."
"All I root for is for my guys to play well, and for nobody to get injured," he said.
Roman Modrowski is an editor for ESPNChicago.com.