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How Dwyane Wade plans to help take Sky to new heights

11 months agoKarli Bell

“This was something that I didn’t feel like business; this was something that felt personal.”

3-time NBA Champion and newest Chicago Sky investor Dwyane Wade’s connection to the WNBA and the franchise dates back to its origin in 2006 when the Sky used to practice at Attack Athletics on the west side of Chicago – the same place where Wade worked out with his trainer, Tim Grover.

“I used to get a chance to see them. Sylvia Fowles, Ty Young. This was that era,” Wade said. “I became friends with a lot of them. I didn’t look at it as anything that just being friends of the players, just like the NBA. 

“Then, my mom wanted to go to a game, and I was like, ‘Ok well let’s go to a game.’ From there, the relationship with her and the organization was built.”

Flash forward to 2023 and the 16-year NBA veteran is having a hand in helping grow not just the Chicago Sky but the WNBA and women’s sports as a whole.

“I think it’s also really cool to see someone from the NBA put their money where their mouth is. It’s really easy to show up to games and say you’re supporting the league, but he’s taking it one step further and actually actively supporting us,” Sky forward Alanna Smith said.

“I have a team that wanted me to be a part of this,” Wade said. “I know what support means. I know what my support looks like. I can feel it throughout the league. This is not about me. I’m glad that it kind of gave it a little boost, but we want to get back to the focus and the focus is on these women, this game and growing it.”

This investment is not only Wade giving back to his own community but also bringing his experience from the NBA – from his playing days and his minority ownership in the Utah Jazz – to a young team and league that’s looking to elevate their platform. With that experience comes a wealth of knowledge that can help take the pressure off the players with Wade being a conduit between the players and ownership. 

“That’s the difference and that’s the most important thing,” Sky guard Kahleah Copper said. “He understands player experience, what draws players to franchises, what franchises need from a bare minimum standpoint. I think that he brings all of that with his resume and I think that no better person could have done this for us.”

What’s the bare minimum? Having their own practice facility and moving into the city limits. The Sky currently practice out in the suburb of Deerfield at the Sachs Recreation Center – a park district facility. Players have voiced their desire to move into Chicago with a place of their own.

“I’m sure when he walked in here, he had to walk all the way down here to get down here to our gym,” Sky guard Dana Evans said. “He knows we got some work to do. He’s expressed that, and he’s been very vocal. I think it’s really about to make a change now.

“I think he’s going to take a lot of pressure off of us because coming from somebody that played and he’s someone who understands us and gets us…we can still say and voice our opinions, but I think we can ease up now that we have someone like him that can kind of do it for us.”

With Wade’s presence within the ownership group, this is a signal to future free agents and draft picks down the line that the Chicago Sky is a team that wants to continue to grow within the league with both the product on the floor as well as moves behind the scenes with continued development. 

“It’s no secret. Listen, this is a beautiful city. We feel like we should have some of the best players in the WNBA that want to play in this city,” Wade said. “What are some things that we have to get better at and we have to grow? A lot of it comes from investment from investors like myself, the city of Chicago, and also in a couple of years with the media deals. So it’s a lot of things we want to do.”

To hear from Dwyane Wade on joining ownership, watch the video above.

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