Dwyane Wade’s Honesty Causes An Undue Firestorm

Dwyane Wade (Getty Images photo via Daylife.com)We live in a microwave society right now.  People want their information fast and they react even faster.  With social media tools like Twitter at our disposal, news and reaction spreads quickly.  And while I often love how quickly information can spread, and the resulting discussion, it comes with a down side.  

Enter Dwyane Wade, who was asked by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski how much he would be paid if there was no salary cap in the NBA.  The question was asked in the context of a larger piece by Woj saying the league’s superstars, despite being paid huge amounts of money, are underpaid when you consider their impact on the game. 

Here’s the quote:

“I’m sure it would get to $50 million,” Wade told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday afternoon.

He’s right, and there’s still a compelling case that it wouldn’t properly compensate what a Kobe Bryant, a LeBron James, even means far beyond his own team. Privately, Jerry Buss has told people that Bryant – who will make a league-high $25 million this season under his current contract terms – is worth perhaps $70 million a year to the Los Angeles Lakers. James has been the most prodigious talent – the compelling serial character – the sport’s manufactured. This list is short, but the impact is immense. This is the largely unspoken truism of labor talks: The superstars are wildly underpaid, and the largely interchangeable rank-and-file players make far too much money.

“In terms of driving revenue, if the NBA had no cap, the compensation would be totally different,” Wade said. “Like baseball, where they have no cap, you see the players that they feel fill arenas, that people come out to see, A-Rod, those kind of guys, look at how much money they make on their deals.

“You’ve got guys – starting with Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe and LeBron – all players that individually people wanted to come to see. And wanted to just have a glimpse, just one glimpse, to be able to say that I’ve seen that person play. For what they’ve done for the game, what they’ve done for organizations, I don’t think you can really put a dollar amount on it.”

That’s really a larger chunk than I normally like to pull so my apologies to Woj for that.  Please, go read the entire piece so you can get the full impact.

Now, here’s where the issue starts.  Here’s Woj’s tweet to promote his piece:


Twitter / @WojYahooNBA: Column: As @DwyaneWade kno … via kwout

Cue the firestorm.

The tweet makes it look bad.  The 140 character limit, and poor phrasing, made it look like Dwyane Wade was complaining about being underpaid.  Suddenly, the tweet, not the column, is making the rounds.  And people begin reacting to the tweet, not the column.  Yet, if you read the entire piece, with full context, you’ll see that the question Wade is answering makes sense. 

The biggest stars are responsible for huge amounts of revenue.  And if you were to somehow figure out how much revenue each player is responsible for bringing into the NBA, and pay that player a percentage based on that number, then guys like Wade, Kobe, LeBron and Dwight would a LOT more than they make now.  

Is that wrong?  Nope.  And it’s not a complaint, either.  Not once did Wade complain about the money he makes.  Not once did Wade rail against the system or the league that has made him quite rich.  All he did was answer a question honestly. 

One of the biggest complaints fans have about players responses to the media is that they’re always such canned answers.  But it’s situations like this that make everyone practice those scripted quotes.  One bad tweet sent out in an effort to promote a column has painted Dwyane Wade in an undeservedly poor light.  And the reaction to that tweet just makes it all worse. 

The lack of context in this mini-controversy shows how much we need to sit back and take in the full amount of information before we react to things.  And it also shows that people need to be more responsible about how they portray bits of information.  Pulling a quote out of context to get attention may accomplish a goal, but it can also make people react to the wrong thing.  And in this day, once the discourse goes down the wrong road, it’s hard to get it back.