“Wade said he has a good relationship with new CEO Danny Ainge even though they were on different sides of a fiery Heat-Celtics rivalry, which included several playoff series and an infamous beef between Ainge and Heat that included one angry letter,” wrote Vorkunov.
“That enmity never trickled down to Wade, however. Wade said Ainge has been gracious with him. He grabbed Wade out of Miami’s locker room during his final NBA season and surprised him with a piece of the Boston court he had played on. He considers himself lucky to learn from Ainge and [Pat] Riley during the course of his career.”
The angry letter that Vorkunov references came in the aftermath of a heated 2013 dispute in which Ainge criticized former Heat player LeBron James. In response, Riley bluntly told Ainge to “shut the f— up.”
The animosity between Ainge and Riley dates back to Ainge’s playing days with the Celtics during the 1980s. Riley spent much of that decade as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. During a four-year span from 1984 to 1987, the Celtics and Lakers battled each other in three bitter finals matchups.
While Ainge and Riley might not be on the best of terms, it’s clear that Wade has no issues with Ainge as they attempt to help make the Jazz NBA champions.
After a Monday night road loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Jazz have a 40-24 record, which is good enough for the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Barring a collapse by the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz won’t finish with the top mark in the conference, but they still have a chance to finish with the second-best record in the West.
Wade’s post-playing days have taken him in a number of different directions. Even though some Heat fans were disappointed when he became part of the Jazz organization, his love of basketball will continue in concert with Ainge.