Dwyane Wade’s empire continues to grow.
The retired three-time NBA champion purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz, he confirmed on Friday. Wade, who spent his entire 14-season NBA career with the Miami Heat, joins majority owner Ryan Smith, who he said has become a “mentor.”
“I don’t look at this as only a Utah Jazz relationship,” Wade told ESPN. “I look at this as a relationship that’s multifaceted — business, basketball, me being able to bring Ryan into my world just as he’s bringing me into his world.”
It’s unclear how much of a stake Wade owns in the Jazz, but has said he plans to take an active role in the franchise and region. Wade also has a close relationship with Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, whose style of play has been compared to Wade’s since entering the league.
The eight-time All-NBA player is the latest Hall of Fame-level player with an NBA ownership stake.
“This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA,” Wade told ESPN. “I’ve seen Shaq do it in Sacramento. I’ve seen Grant Hill do it in Atlanta. I’ve seen Jordan do it in Charlotte. If this partnership is going to be anything like my relationship is with Ryan, there are going to be a lot of things that I’ll want to be involved in.
“Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity. To make real change, this is where you have to be — at the top — and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills.”
Wade met Smith on a San Clemente, California, golf course, not long after his retirement in 2019, and they hit it off. Wade was initially interested in learning about Smith’s tech business, including his Qualtrics company.
Smith eventually proposed the idea to Wade about joining the ownership group — which includes Smith and his wife, Ashley; investor and Accel partner Ryan Sweeney; Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes; and the Miller family, which previously owned the team — upon completing a $1.66 billion purchase of the Jazz in October.
Multiple NBA stars have already congratulated Wade, including his longtime friend and former Heat teammate LeBron James, who commented on Wade’s Instagram announcement, “MAJOR [key]! Congrats brother.”
The reception hasn’t all been positive, however. Heat owner Micky Arison took to Twitter to express some disappointment in Wade’s venture.
“I want to congratulate Dwyane on his recent announcement. We had discussed having him join our ownership group after his retirement [in 2019] but he was not prepared to commit at the time. Of course I am disappointed that he didn’t reconsider,” Arison tweeted on Friday.
“Having said that I wish him good luck and much success with the Jazz. To me Dwyane will always be a HEAT lifer.”