Dwyane Wade knows what’s coming this season, even if LeBron James will rest Friday when the Cavaliers come to the United Center for an exhibition.
"Besides his jokes of how the jersey looks on me," Wade said, laughing, "when the ball goes up, it’s competition. Outside of Kobe (Bryant), LeBron has been — when we played against each other — my favorite person to play against. It’s just those games where you wake up and feel a little better that day. The greats bring the best out of you."
Wade said he, James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony — the so-called "Banana Boat Group" from their shared warm-weather vacations — have been checking in on each other this preseason, as they always do.
"I told (James) that Fred (Hoiberg) was kicking our ass over here," Wade said, again laughing. "Everybody got a chuckle out of it."
Friday also marks the start of a preseason oddity — three games in four days.
"I won’t be playing all those; I guarantee you that," Wade said. "But the ones I will play in, just try to make my minutes count. I wanted to push myself this last game (Saturday) because I knew we didn’t have a game for a week. That’s why I played 26 minutes."
This is all part of the ongoing communication between Wade and coach Fred Hoiberg on his proper usage. Hoiberg revealed Tuesday that Wade, who turns 35 on January, sat out one practice last week because he was "a little stiff."
Wade’s commanding presence has been the early story of Bulls’ camp, from his skill level on the court to his leadership off it. From policing bad habits to setting an example for the many young players, Wade consistently has served as the adult in the room.
Which is why his answer on what the Bulls’ goals are this season sounded so pitch-perfect.
"When you’re coming off a season where as an organization you don’t make the playoffs, your goal can’t be winning a championship," he said. "Your goal has to be day-to-day making steps to improve yourself so you can get to a point where you’re a playoff team. And then you go from there. I’m not going to put a ceiling on us. But we’re not thinking long-term right now with so many new guys. We’re in the moment."
Wade, however, is taking a big-picture view to his usage. It’s why he talked after Saturday’s victory about studying Michael Jordan and Bryant to figure out ways to prolong his career, both with monitoring his body off the court and how he plays on it.
"He has become more efficient and doesn’t have to sort of use his athleticism every possession to beat you but really use his intellect," TNT broadcaster Grant Hill said on a Tuesday conference call.
Indeed, Wade, albeit in a mere three exhibitions, has focused as much on setting up his new teammates as scoring.
Photos of Dwyane Wade, who signed a two-year deal with the Bulls after a 13-year run with the Heat.
"It seems that the chemistry is there for such a short amount of time that these guys have been together," fellow TNT broadcaster Reggie Miller said on the same call.
That said, Miller conceded Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo don’t fit the current leaguewide trend toward 3-point shooting.
"To me for Chicago, it’s going to be all about timely 3-pointers from (Nikola) Mirotic to (Doug) McDermott. Can these guys be consistent in making 3s at critical times?" Miller said. "I understand offensively the one-on-one basketball because Wade is one of the greatest shooting guards to ever get it done. And Butler is an All-Star and Rondo is a former All-Star. They know how to play."
Layups: Hoiberg said his decision on who starts at power forward will likely go until "at least the last week" of preseason. … Hoiberg said Tony Snell will be out "a little while" with his sprained left ankle. … Several athletes have pushed back at Donald Trump’s characterization of his sexist comments from 2005 that were recently leaked as "locker room talk." Asked for his reaction, Wade said: "I’ve seen other guys’ reaction. But I didn’t feel I wanted to waste any time on a reaction."