You can expect the fifth annual Wade's World Weekend to have a different feel to it this year.
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade — the host of the Wade's World Foundation fundraiser taking place Thursday-Sunday — is coming off of a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals in June, whereas last year he was coming off a loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the championship series. As everyone knows, people like winners. And, as Wade himself pointed out, people like to be around winners.
“I believe it might give a little (boost),” Wade said over the phone this week when asked about the title's potential impact on his Chicago fundraiser. “Everyone enjoys being around someone who is a champion — in whatever aspect of life that is. (The event becomes) a little cooler. We might get a few people who want to be around the Weekend because of it. I hope so, anyway.”
Wade said he'll especially feel the difference when speaking to media during the Weekend's various events.
“It's going to be a lot easier,” Wade said. “Last year there were a lot of questions about how we didn't win the championship. You have to face it. You can't run from it. Hopefully this year there will be talk about what we accomplished this season, but I'm sure there will be a lot of questions about the Los Angeles Lakers.”
Because he was granted full custody of his two sons last year, the Robbins-raised Wade doesn't spend as much time in Chicago as he did in past off-seasons. This week marks his first extended stay in the city all year. He believes most of the Chicagoans he'll run into will be supportive of his second NBA title win but expects some to question whether the Heat would have won if the Bulls' Derrick Rose hadn't been injured in the playoffs.
“I'm sure I'll get a few of those,” Wade said. “It's the truth: What if he would have been healthy? We'll never know what would have happened. They would have a point.”
Though it remains to be seen if any Bulls players attend Wade's benefit, there will be plenty of other celebrities on hand — just not the Heat's LeBron James and Chris Bosh. “I don't like to bother them and try to get them to come to everything I do,” Wade said. “I do a lot of things.”
"Hot in Herre" rapper Nelly will host the kick-off party Thursday at The Mid and Chicago's own Common and “Sparkle” actress Tika Sumpter will co-host Wade's Championship Celebration Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel. And, just like in years past, there will be a bowling event at Lucky Strike on Friday and a talent show for students age 7-18 at the Chicago Theatre Saturday. New this year is a gospel talent show Sunday at Barrier Breakdown Transformed community center at 12900 S. Halsted Street.
In addition to the parties and talent shows, Wade will attend a reading competition for Chicago Public School students Thursday at Fitness Formula Clubs in Union Station and visit the winning school Friday. He also plans to host a youth summit at UIC Forum Saturday.
What is the most rewarding part of the busy Weekend to Wade?
“I guess any time I get a sincere thank you from the parents,” Wade said. “You see this makes a difference. If they come to the Weekend and hear encouraging words at the youth summit and that helps change someone, that for me is enough. I don't do this for the headlines.”
Twitter @aboutluisgomezCopyright © 2015, RedEye