Will Wade took the podium yesterday and began talking in his introductory press conference, and I thought he looked nervous. He was working his way through the thank yous and plaudits–standard issue press conference decorum–and he rocked just a little bit back and forth. His words were a little stilted and robotic.
But after about a minute there were subtle shifts in body language, word choice, and smoothness of delivery. I realized I was wrong.
Will Wade wasn’t nervous. He was simply champing at the bit to get to basketball and the stamp he will put on this program. He couldn’t wait to get started, he dodged nothing. It was like a wave crashing to the shore.
The nuts and bolts of the program will be very similar, but it will have my little personality on it, a little distinct flair on it.
We’re going to fly around for 94 feet. We’re going to give no ground.
Contest every movement. Chance favors the aggressor.
And just so y’all know, havoc still lives here.
You could almost see the saliva form at the corners of his lips when he began getting into a tiny bit of detail: …30% of the time we will play 2-2-1 and fall back into a matchup zone.
It was like Wade was five seconds from telling Nate Doughty to get rid of the dais, asking folks politely but directly to move the chairs, and yelling into the stands: “Melvin. MELVIN! Get your shoes!”
Give no ground. You bet that resonates. Give no ground on the basketball floor when the clock is running, and give no ground in the progress this basketball program has made over the past 15 years.
It’s difficult to screw up an introductory press conference. Glasses are half full and speeches are easy. The air carries an ebullience that is tough to stamp down. There won’t be a lame moving screen call and nobody will lose.
However this was no ordinary introductory press conference. We can all admit that. Everything that has occurred in the past week, the past six years–hell, the past 15 years–framed this as a key moment.
Around 1,200 people were in attendance, and another 1,000 viewed online. They wanted to hear what Will Wade had to say. They had nagging questions, and nagging feelings. Even if they couldn’t put their fingers on the words they needed to hear, they needed to hear them.
This went beyond lofty goals and fiery speeches. This went straight to the heart of a fan base and basketball program that’s been on an unprecedented trajectory. This was a time to notice everything surrounding the press conference, not just the press conference itself.
And Wade friggin’ crushed it.
Will Wade knows this isn’t about him. He repeatedly said yesterday it’s about the players and the people. It’s about winning. And he is honored to be a part of it.
You know what you’re going to get from Will Wade. You can see the authenticity in his words when he has to talk about himself. It’s in those moments that he reverts back to searching for words and stammering just a bit. It becomes easy again for him when the focus turns to basketball, the players, and a vision for the program.
Later, at Home Team Grill, Wade again deflected from Will Wade and into the players and people and basketball:
we want people who will carve their heart out to be here
cutters we follow and those we let run, strong side, weak side, open side
if you get the opening tip the averages say you get an extra possession
It’s obvious what we have. Will Wade is a straight basketball coach. It oozes from his pores. He has a vision and a plan for actualizing that vision.
This is clear: you can call it anything you want to call it, but this is Will Wade’s show. And he has big dreams, big goals, deep March runs, in his mind.
Let’s give no ground, and do it again.
Where are all the people going?
Round and round till we reach the end.
One day leading to another,
Get up, go out, do it again.
Then it’s back where you started,
Here we go round again.
Back where you started,
Come on do it again