CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade says he first dreamed of playing for the Bulls at 9 years old, but the reality of seeing the future Hall of Famer in a Chicago Bulls jersey after 13 years in Miami is going to be an adjustment for everybody -- Wade included.
"It's really not the jersey. It's the same material, so it feels the same," Wade said with a smile during the Bulls' media day on Monday.
"It's a different environment. I was somewhere for so long, I knew where to go, I can walk backward and get anywhere I want to go. It's just different, but different is not a bad thing. It's been cool. I'm like the new kid in class. I've gotta find my one friend to talk to before I can get more friends, but I'm figuring it all out. Like I said, I'm happy to be here. At this time in my career, this is where I want to be."
The Bulls' front office is happy to have Wade in the fold and remains confident that the 34-year-old can show the young team how to improve on a daily basis. While Wade adjusts to his new team in his hometown, GM Gar Forman acknowledged that the Bulls are going to keep a close eye on Wade's body throughout the season and that a minutes restriction would be "fluid."
"First of all, we've talked to him -- our medical team and our athletic-performance team, we've visited some with him," Forman said. "But that's going to be fluid. I don't know that any definitive have come from that yet, but it's obviously something that we'll watch in regards to Dwyane being a little bit older but really to a number of our players. We've obviously invested a lot in athletic performance, and it's an area we've done a lot of study in and we've got a lot of analytics as far as in that area. It's something we're constantly monitoring with all our guys."
After Wade signed in late July, he made it clear that the Bulls were Jimmy Butler's team, leaving no doubt, at least publicly, who had ownership of the group within the locker room. While Butler appreciated the sentiment, he made it known that he wanted to learn from Wade and veteran Rajon Rondo as the trio begins their first season together.
"I can learn from them," Butler said. "The winning culture that they've built in this league, what they've done, I'm excited because there's so much growth that I can handle in that aspect of the game. When you look at what Wade has done for his career -- future Hall of Famer -- I think that I can model the way I do things around him. I'm super-excited that he's here. And I'm sure Rondo will keep me on my toes as well."
As happy as Butler and various Bulls personnel are that Wade is in town, Wade seems happiest of all that he gets to wear the jersey he grew up dreaming about.
"1991, when the Bulls won their first championship," Wade said of when he first envisioned being with the Bulls. "I was like, 'Oh yeah, I can do that, I can be out there with those guys.' I could go out in my backyard, I see the snow, it didn't matter. I'd try to emulate the things that my favorite players were doing. At 9 years old, that's where my vision started. Not only to play in the NBA, but to play for the Bulls."