Anybody who witnessed Dwyane Wade's performance in Beijing could see that he was a man re-inspired. After a missing a good chunk of last season with nagging injuries and watching his Heat win only 15 games, he led Team USA to its first gold since Bill Clinton was president. Now, with a couple first-round picks in the Heat's depth chart, he's looking to prove that his 2006 Finals MVP wasn't just a one-time thing. We caught up with him in Chicago, where he was challenging fans on Xbox 360's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith as part of the "Young, Fly, & Flashy" weekend he throws to raise money and awareness for programs that support at-risk kids in Chicago.
MAG.COM: John Hollinger recently ranked your performance in the 2006 NBA Finals as the greatest playoff performance of all time—ahead of Jordan in '88. Where does your experience in Beijing fit?
Wade: When I saw that I was above Jordan I was like, Wow! Growing up I always dreamed of winning an NBA championship, never a gold. A gold was something that never crossed my mind. After we lost the Olympics in 2004, and then after last year's injury, it just felt so good.
Who is the most talented international player you played against this summer that's not already in the league?
The new guy from Spain that went to Portland—Rudy Fernandez—he's an unbelievable talent. The way he shoots the ball and how athletic he is, I'm sure Nate McMillan didn't want him to play like that against us, but I'm sure he was smiling on the inside.
What about Ricky Rubio? Some people are saying he could be a first pick next year.
He's fast, he's young and he goes a hundred miles an hour. Plus, his ability to play at the Olympic level shows a lot of character. But right now he's playing off of sheer will. Once he gets to know the game a little better, he's going to be phenomenal. Right now he's not a No. 1 pick.
Any special plans for your medal?
I'm gonna give it to my mother, let her hold it for a while. Then when my place in Miami gets done, I'm gonna put it up in my trophy room.
You guys got Beasley with the second pick, is he gonna get hazed at all?
I'm not a big hazer. Of course, I'm gonna make him do little things. If I'm lying around, I'm not going out to the locker room to get my own towels or Gatorade. The young guys have to get those for us. He might have to go shopping for me, too, go get me some food or something.
Do you think he should have gone higher than the second pick?
I thought one and two was a flip-flop, you could go either way. Both D. Rose and Beasley were great college players. Arguably, Beasley was more NBA ready than Rose. I'm glad we got him, because going to help us immediately.
You've gotten to know Shaq and Barkley pretty well, which of those two guys has the bigger ego?
I'm gonna say Shaq. It's been documented. He's renamed himself eighty times, he proclaimed himself the most dominate center ever, which he is, but still he self- proclaimed it. Besides I was a Bulls fan and a Jordan fan so I never really paying attention to Barkley and what he was saying that closely.
Who are your top three best basketball players to ever come out of Chicago?
Isiah Thomas, no question about it. Also, Tim Hardaway. And I don't want to hurt any one's feelings so I'll have to get back you on the third one.
You have a pick in the election?
I'm a Chicago guy and I believe in change. I love everything that Barack stands for right now as a man, outside of what he stands for as a presidential candidate. I think everything else will fall into place. I'm all about change.
Last question: Cubs or White Sox?
Both. I throw a lot of people off with that. One day I wear a White Sox hat, the next day I go to the Cubs game. I'm just a Chicago guy. And it's not just because both of them are playing good right now, it's every year. I get that question a lot though: How can you be both—you're from the South Side? It's just a Chicago thing.