Wade questioned in restaurant trial

Updated: May 26, 2010, 12:55 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade finally got his chance to play offense in his $25 million breach-of-contract trial.

The Miami Heat star spent about two hours Tuesday answering questions from his attorney, Michael Kreitzer, in the trial where two of Wade's former business partners are suing for damages over a failed restaurant deal. Wade stepped down later in the afternoon, having spent parts of three days on the witness stand.

In all, Wade was questioned for about seven hours by Richard Bales, the attorney for Mark Rodberg and Lauren Hollander, including a period of redirected questions Tuesday. Bales needed only about five minutes to finish his direct examination, at which point Kreitzer took over.

Wade
Wade

That gave Kreitzer and Wade their first chance to present the story their way. Kreitzer started by questioning the 2006 NBA finals MVP about his role in marketing and promoting the planned chain of D. Wade's Sports Grill restaurants. Kreitzer also asked Wade if he combined the marketing of the restaurants with some of his other off-court endeavors, including basketball camps for children.

"Well, yeah," Wade said. "The kids got to eat."

Wade also told Kreitzer, as he said in response to a question from Bales under direct examination, that he was committed to making the restaurant project work, and that he believed his now-scorned partners were the right people to make that happen. He also detailed how the restaurants were marketed at Heat games and how he looked forward to bringing family and friends to the establishments.

"I wanted to have successful restaurants," Wade testified. "I leaned on them. I leaned on our partners to lead us there."

Rodberg and Hollander contend that they lost millions when Wade walked away from their arrangement, a move sparked by Wade and longtime associate Marcus Andrews not getting a significantly higher ownership stake than first agreed upon. Hollander testified earlier in the trial; Rodberg took the stand late Tuesday.

Wade and Andrews originally were to receive a combined 12 percent, then ultimately asked for a 30 percent share after Wade said he and Rodberg came to a "mutual agreement" that another former partner, Richard von Houtman, did not fulfill his responsibilities regarding the deal.

Von Houtman is expected to testify later in the trial.

"Mark was the biggest reason I wanted to be a part of these restaurant concepts," Wade said. "Not only did I know Mark had knowledge ... but also he's helped certain restaurants become what they are. I had a comfort zone with Mark to the point where I remember taking my mom to the restaurant to meet Mark. I really had a lot of confidence in him that he knew what he was doing."

Wade is seeking damages as well, saying his name and likeness were used in ways he did not approve, which would have violated the original agreement between the sides.

"That was the provision that I thought was the most important ... that I had the right of approval," Wade testified.

The case will take a break Wednesday so a juror can attend a family funeral, then resume Thursday before taking a four-day recess. Wade is due in Chicago on Friday for another hearing in his ongoing divorce and custody battle; he is seeking sole custody of his two sons.

Prior to court beginning Tuesday, Bales again expressed reservations to the court about aspects of media coverage of the case, asking Judge Peter Adrien to question jurors individually about whether they had been exposed to written or electronic reports about the trial.

Adrien granted such a request Monday. He denied Bales on Tuesday.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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