Dwyane Wade talks his new ESPN documentary, ‘peak’ Heat and LeBron James, and young NBA stars he admires today

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  • The ESPN documentary “D. Wade: Life Unexpected,” about the NBA star’s life and career, premieres on Sunday.
  • Ahead of the release of the documentary, Wade spoke to Business Insider about the documentary, his NBA career, and more.
  • Wade also discussed the “peak” Miami Heat teams, load management, and the young stars that excite him today.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One year into retirement, Dwyane Wade is proud.

He is proud of his accomplishments in his career — from his influence on the game, to his championships with the Miami Heat, his impact on free agency and “player empowerment,” and the hands in which he has left the game.

And he is proud to own his own content. On Sunday, “D. Wade: Life Unexpected,” a documentary by ESPN, will premiere. The documentary chronicles Wade’s life and career, with behind-the-scenes footage of his childhood, college career, and 16 seasons in the NBA. The film also dives into Wade’s personal life, from raising his children, his first marriage, and his current marriage to Gabrielle Union.

Ahead of the premiere of the documentary, Wade sat down with Business Insider to discuss his path to the NBA, basketball influences, the Miami Heat, and more.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

dwyane wade ball

Lynne Sladky/AP Images

Scott Davis: A major focus and theme of your documentary is how you handled adversity — your relationship with your parents, having your first son at Marquette, being down in the Finals, LeBron James leaving Miami, you leaving Miami, all these kinds of things. I was wondering to who and to what do you kind of credit your ability to keep going?

Dwyane Wade: I credit it to life experiences. I think once you’ve been put in a situation enough times where you have to keep going, you figure out how to keep going. It’s like I kind of said in my documentary, when you grow up in the inner-city, when you grew up in a hood, there’s no one really caring about your tears because everyone is struggling. Everyone’s going through the same thing. So, you gotta lace them up tighter, and you gotta keep going. I’ve learned to keep pushing and keep pushing through that. It’s not easy. It’s not always as easy as you may make it seem, but it’s no stop, right? There’s no quit in me because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did.

dwyane wade kobe bryant

Kobe Bryant was one of Dwyane Wade’s basketball idols.

Lynne Sladky/AP Images

Davis: The documentary talks about your upbringing playing basketball. I could probably guess who some of your basketball influences were, but as you grew older and your game changed a little bit, who did you look to learn new things and evolve your game?

Wade: Growing up, Michael Jordan, of course, right? I grew up in Chicago. Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson. Those are like my three. That was the three guys that I was like, okay, let me take a little bit from here, take a little bit from there, and make whatever you see on the court. It was very similar to the way I felt I could play, and the way I did play. And along the way, I think you take things from people who have influenced your life, whether it’s trainers or whether it’s coaches. You just take a lot of things from individuals, and you mix it and make it your own.

Davis: There’s a section in the documentary where Miami Heat GM Andy Ellsberg talks about the 2006 Finals when you helped to lead the Heat back from a 2-0 deficit and won Finals MVP. He says it’s the closest thing to Michael that the Heat have had — obviously Michael Jordan. I was wondering what that means to you, having grown up a fan of him, to be in that air.

Wade: Anytime you are mentioned in conversations with someone of that stature of greatness, you got to take a moment and be like, whoa, like pinch yourself. Because you know, that means you’ve done something special. I grew up watching Michael take over games. I grew up watching Michael take over Finals. I grew up watching him dominate, so I had a vision of how to do it. I just had to learn how to do it myself. And when I got to the place where I felt I was there, like, I thanked him for giving me that vision.

dwyane wade 06 finals

Dwyane Wade took home Finals MVP while helping the Heat win the 2005-06 championship.

J. Pat Carter/AP Images

Davis: The documentary footage of yourself throughout your career. There are times where you’re recording yourself or other people recording you behind the scenes. Did you always know you wanted to document it like this when you were finished playing?

Wade: I knew that it went fast, and I knew that I wanted to look back on these moments. When I first started, when I first started getting all this footage, it was in the beginning of the social media era. So, you didn’t know what the world was going to be today. But I wanted to have my own. I wanted to own my own content. When you get into the place where you want to put things out, and someone else owns it, you’ve got to get it from someone else, and it’s your story. So I wanted to own my own story. I wanted to own my own content. So 10-plus years ago, I started that process. It just so happened that once I ended my career, I was like, okay, we got all this footage, let’s do something with it to kind of wrap up this journey and this pa

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