Dwyane Wade is a competitor. Pat Riley is a competitor. It just so happens that this season, for the first time in their respective NBA careers, they’re competing against each other.
That’s the bottom line on what might not be the warmest of reunions Thursday night when Wade returns to Miami for the first time as an opponent (8 ET, TNT) to face his former team, the Heat. Riley is the man who coached and oversaw all basketball operations that produced three NBA titles for Wade, himself, the organization and South Florida fans.
Wade, who left the Heat after 13 seasons as a free agent to sign with Chicago, spoke about the terms on which he and Riley relate these days – not much, basically – Wednesday morning in advance of the Bulls’ game at Atlanta. His return to Miami was a big enough story this week to leapfrog questions about the game immediately at hand, as reported by ESPN.com’s Nick Friedell:
"I think you guys know, I haven't talked to him," Wade said Wednesday. "It's as simple as that. I think I've been very open and honest about my respect and love with Pat. I've been honest that I haven't spoken to him since the season ended."
The general thought throughout the league last summer was that Wade would re-sign with the Heat and ultimately end his career in Miami. After contract talks broke down, Wade decided to sign with the Bulls. The 34-year-old said he has "communicated with everyone else" in the organization besides Riley.
"I know who Pat is," Wade said. "It's no secret to me. I was there 13 years, I've seen a lot of players come and go. I know how he is. If you're not with him, you're against him. That's just the way he is. You got to understand that, man. And I'm cool with it. I'm fine, 100 percent. I was there 13 years so I've seen a lot of video tributes, seen a lot of players come in and go out. And I've seen the way he's responded to them. And I know if you're not with him, you're against him."
Wade said he wasn't sure whether he would speak to Riley before the highly anticipated game Thursday.