Should Dwyane Wade leave Miami if he can’t remain a starter? From a purely business perspective, no, he should stay. Just like LeBron James or Peyton Manning or Sidney Crosby, Dwyane Wade is a brand. And he’s built his entire brand in Miami.
- Wade is the second most beloved athlete in Miami next to Dan Marino
- His ego isn’t ready to be a bench player.
From talking to my Miami friends, I can attest to the first point. In fact, among a younger audience, he’s probably more popular. As for the second point, I’d advise Wade to swallow his pride and not tarnish what he’s made for himself there. His brand (keep in mind that he was drafted by Miami in 2003 and has spent his entire professional career there) would take a huge hit if he decided to play out his last few years somewhere else. The negative financial implications of such a decision would outweigh the gains from any two or three-year contract.
Now you might be thinking, “Well, if Wade only has a few years left, doesn’t that mean this ‘brand’ you keep referring to only has a few years left too?”
As a Pittsburgher, I’ll explain it like this. At the end of his Hall of Fame-worthy career in Pittsburgh (also a city of sports fanatics), it was rumored that Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, or “The Bus” as we call him, was struggling with the idea of taking a backseat to his younger, healthier replacements. Similar to what Wade may face, it was an ego dilemma. He’d rushed for over 13,000 yards, scored almost 100 touchdowns, delivered us a Lombardi Trophy and we were prepared to move on. That would hurt. By that point in his career, Bettis had earned the type of love and admiration in Pittsburgh that Wade has in Miami.
Long story short, he chose retirement and ended his career in Pittsburgh, where he’d built it. Well, more accurately, he retired on the podium, holding the Lombardi Trophy, after winning Super Bowl XL in his native Detroit, with the now famous words, “It’s been an incredible ride. I played this game to win a championship. I’m a champion, and I think the Bus’s last stop is here in Detroit.”
Since then, The Bus has cashed in on being one of Pittsburgh’s all-time most beloved athletes. The endorsement deals and local businesses he’s started since are probably more valuable than his NFL contract ever was, and that’s saying a lot. Had he left, it’s fair to assume that he would have gone from being loved to liked.
Loved makes a lot more money than liked.