A lot of people have wondered whether or not there was any tampering going on during the Miami Heat’s pursuit of LeBron James this summer. Thanks to some detective work by the good people at SportsByBrooks, audio evidence has emerged of Dwyane Wade discussing James coming a year ago.
The following excerpt comes from an interview Wade did in July of 2009 on The Dan Patrick Show:
“We’ve considered it years ago. You considered as a talk. We think about, ‘wow we could play on the same team some day? Wow, that’d be great.’ Last year (2008) when he (LeBron James) came down for our (charity event) Summer Groove in Miami, we joked about being in the same locker room as each other. … you never know what could happen.”
Patrick then asked Wade if he could envision the two teaming up in New York when they became free agents in 2010.
“I can imagine it, but … I love being in Miami, so I have to say if we want to play (together) he has to come to Miami.”
Earlier in the summer, front-office officials and team owners like Steve Kerr and Mark Cuban were fined for joking that they would want James on their teams. The league made it very clear that any discussions involving soon-to-be free agent players would be unacceptable.
In order for there to be any legitimate tampering charges levied against the Heat or Wade, there has to be material proof that a member of the team was speaking to James on behalf of the team. It appears as though that happened, so that requirement can be checked off.
However, the only reason that this may not be considered tampering is because according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), players are not considered front-office employees as it applies to tampering. Therefore, Wade playing the role of head recruiter, is not actually tampering as the league defines it.