CHICAGO — Dwyane Wade does not want to be viewed as a ring chaser.
The Bulls guard made that clear a day after LeBron James acknowledged he tried to get his good friend to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers over the summer.
“Listen, I’m not ring chasing,” Wade said with a laugh after Thursday’s practice. “I told you that. If I was ring chasing, it would be a different conversation. I’m lucky and I’m blessed. Obviously, we talked. But it wasn’t … it’s cool to talk about certain things but 3.5 … Nothing wrong with $3.5 million, but … nothing wrong with it all.”
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Wade said James never tried to sell him and Chris Bosh on signing with the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010. All three All-Stars ended up signing — or in Wade’s case, re-signing — with the Miami Heat that summer.
“No,” Wade said. “Absolutely not. Financially, I don’t think they could even be in the game if it came to that. I know they were trying to get Chris there in a trade at some point. Obviously, we met with a few different teams, but when it came to us figuring out we could play together, Miami put the monkey wrench in the whole thing when they came with the idea that they can get three players. We never thought it was possible. I was shocked when I heard it could happen. But I know LeBron’s eyes were here. I know my eyes were here. I know Chris’ eyes were kind of everywhere because he was in Toronto so he was just happy that people knew who he was. Toronto was a little different than it is today. Obviously, everything happened the way it happened.”
In the midst of his 20 minute post-practice media session, Wade also discussed how James should be viewed in the context of all-time greats in the league. Wade told ESPN.com last week that he thought no player would ever surpass Michael Jordan‘s legacy and the best James could hope for was a ‘tie.’
“It’s tough [to compare] because these guys are different players,” Wade said. “We’re not talking the exact same player. We’re talking about different players in different times. Even though everyone crossed paths, Kobe crossed paths with Jordan, Bron crossed paths with Kobe, all these guys, we’re talking about great, great players.
“My comment was, to me, as an individual person, Michael Jordan is my favorite basketball player of all time. No one is ever going be my favorite like Michael Jordan. And understanding the time that we’re in today, the time Jordan was in, helps that as well. I didn’t know a lot about MJ, all this stuff that’s going on about players and everything we get to talk about, I didn’t see none of that about Michael. So even to this day, he’s still a superhero from that standpoint. It’s just a total different time. For me, LeBron James is — I thought at one point when we came in the league, Kobe Bryant was the greatest player in our era. That’s who we all strived for, that’s who we all looked up to to try to get [to that level].
“LeBron, when it’s all said and done, when his career is over, yes, he’s arguably a top-three player of all time. And depending on what era you grew up in, you can decide who’s one, who’s two, who’s three. But no one is going have a perfect [order], all the numbers is not going to match up. Some players don’t think Michael Jordan is the greatest. You go back to Bill Russell, you go back to Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]. [There’s] so many players that can be [in the discussion]. I just felt that for me, how much higher can you go? LeBron James could win 10 championships, that doesn’t make you a better player. He’s as great as it gets, so now [media] decides the rankings. But for me, Michael Jordan is my number one favorite player of all time.”
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg echoed Wade’s sentiments, saying he would put James on his own personal Mt. Rushmore of the game’s greats.
“I do,” Hoiberg said. “You talk about versatility in basketball players and players that make those around them better, I’m not sure there’s too many in the game ever that have made their surrounding cast better players. You look at what happened a couple years ago, they had so many injuries to key guys and they’re still playing in the Finals. It’s a testament to LeBron and what he can do as a basketball player. He’s such a tough cover because of his size, strength, his passing ability, unselfishness, and just his power and athleticism. That block he had in Game 7 at Golden State is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, the way he covered ground like he did. He’s an unbelievable basketball player, great instincts. I think the best thing you can say about him is how much he makes those around him better.”
As great as James is, Hoiberg knows that if Jordan played in today’s game, with today’s rules, he would dominate more than ever.
“The thing I’ve always said about Jordan, if he would have played in today’s era with the hand-check rule the way it is, he would have shot over 20 free throws every night,” Hoiberg said. “He was impossible to stay in front of. But when Jordan played, you could hold guys, you could grab them, you could be more physical with them. In my opinion, Michael Jordan is the best ever to put on a uniform. There’s really no debate. I think if you ask most people, [they would] give you that same answer. As far as LeBron is concerned, I’d absolutely put him up there, as far as the Mount Rushmore. Again, he’s so versatile, he’s such a tough cover, he can guard. He does everything.”