Over the course of his NBA career, Dwyane Wade became synonymous with the Miami Heat. He played for the franchise for 15 years, helped propel them to three championships, and is widely considered to be the greatest player in team history. In retirement though, Wade will be associated with another organization, as the 2006 Finals MVP has purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Wade's exact stake in the franchise isn't known at this time.
Along with majority owner Ryan Smith, Wade plans to take an active role in the franchise and area of Utah. Moving into ownership was a logical next step from Wade, who has long been interested in the business side of basketball, and has seen other former players make successful moves into ownership.
"This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA," Wade said of the move. "I've seen Shaq do it in Sacramento. I've seen Grant Hill do it in Atlanta. I've seen [Michael] Jordan do it in Charlotte. If this partnership is going to be anything like my relationship is with Ryan, there are going to be a lot of things that I'll want to be involved in.
"... Unfortunately, people in my community don't get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity," Wade added. "To make real change, this is where you have to be -- at the top -- and Ryan knows that. I'm thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills."
Shortly after it was reported that Wade would become part of Utah's ownership, Heat owner Micky Arison took to Twitter to send well wishes Wade's way, and to share the fact that he had previously approached Wade about joining Heat ownership following his retirement. Arison said that Wade wasn't ready to make such a move at that point.
"I want to congratulate Dwyane on his recent announcement," Arison wrote. "We had discussed having him join our ownership group after his retirement but he was not prepared to commit at the time. Of course I am disappointed that he didn't reconsider. Having said that I wish him good luck and much success with the Jazz. To me Dwyane will always be a HEAT lifer."
Like Arison, many basketball fans will continue to view Wade as a Heat lifer as well, and Wade made sure to make it clear that his new relationship with the Jazz won't alter the feelings that he has for Heat fans and the Heat organization.
"The respect I that I have for that [Heat] organization will not go anywhere, the love that I have for the [Heat] fans -- that goes nowhere," Wade said. "But this is about the next phase of my life as an investor, a businessman, an entrepreneur. For me, this is an opportunity to grow."
Wade expects his role with the Jazz to stretch well beyond the boundaries of a basketball court, as his aim is to have an impact on the community at large. In many ways, Wade's progressive vision matched Smith's, and that's a big part of the reason that the partnership came about.
"We're not running away from the racial and social and LGBTQ conversations," Wade said. "I'm committed to doing the work. I talk about the LGBTQ community, which everyone knows is important to me. My daughter is part of that community... I don't look at this as only a Utah Jazz relationship. I look at this as a relationship that's multifaceted -- business, basketball, me being able to bring Ryan into my world just as he's bringing me into his world."
Wade had enormous success both on and off of the court in Miami, and there's no reason to think that he can't achieve similar success in Utah.