Dwyane Wade has pointed out a resemblance between the NBA and the historical practice of the slave trade in terms of how the most exceptional, athletic and skilled individuals are selected.
In one segment of the three-part BET special featuring his wife, Gabrielle Union, titled “Gabrielle Union: My Journey to 50,” the distressing legacy and enduring consequences of the TransAtlantic slave trade were discussed.
Wade and Union showed deep empathy for the ancestral Africans who were forcibly taken from their homes and subjected to enslavement.
Wade, in particular, expressed a personal resonance with the situation, likening it to the process of being drafted into the NBA.
“Just thinking, man. Bring ’em here, clean ’em up. Just to go sell them then they get branded,” Wade said. “I could do nothing but think about the way God built me and how my physique fits.”
The slave trade wrought catastrophic consequences in Africa. The economic motivations for warlords and tribes to partake in the trafficking of enslaved individuals fostered an environment marked by disorder and brutality, severely hindering economic and agricultural progress across a significant portion of western Africa.
Enslavers typically abandoned individuals who were elderly, disabled or incapable of contributing to the economic well-being of their societies.
“Well, you know, it’s like you go to the NBA, and your physique, it matters. My arms being long, the build of my body, my athleticism. That’s what got me drafted,” Wade said.
During the 2003 NBA draft, Wade was selected as the fifth pick by the Miami Heat, which marked the beginning of a highly successful career. His scoring ability, defensive prowess, athleticism and basketball IQ made him instantly impactful.
He led the team to the championship in 2006, and he was named NBA Finals MVP.
Before his NBA career, Wade had an impressive run for the Marquette Golden Eagles. Wade was the top scorer for the team in his sophomore year, his first season on the college basketball court after overcoming academic eligibility challenges, averaging 17.8 points per game and guiding them to a 26–7 record, their best since 1993–94.
After an outstanding second season, when he averaged 21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, led Marquette to the Final Four and was a consensus All-American, Wade declared for the NBA draft in 2003.
“Same process that changed my family’s life and fortune, the same process that had us enslaved,” Wade said, “It’s the same thing. Clean up and let them draft me. It’s built off the same principle.”
LeBron’s message to Dwyane Wade as he enters the Hall of Fame
Dwyane Wade is among the 12 icons part of the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame class, which also features former NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker, along with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
LeBron James, who shared the court with Wade for five seasons and clinched consecutive championships from 2011 to 2013, expressed his love for Wade in a social media post:
“Today is the official day my brother @dwyanewade goes into the HOF!!!!! WOW WOW WOW bro!! Man I can’t say enough how proud and happy I am of/for you. The kid from Robbins, IL now in the HALL!!! You a bad man Trey Ball!”
Wade became the second member of the Hall of Fame from the Miami Heat’s Big Three era, with Chris Bosh inducted two years before.