Zaire Wade doesn’t care what you think of him, or his reasons for choosing the BAL

Despite some criticism, Zaire Wade is proud to be playing for the Cape Town Tigers in this year’s Basketball Africa League (BAL). Wade is the son of NBA legend Dwyane Wade and has faced numerous questions from the media, but is learning not to worry about pleasing critics. He also wants to challenge negative perceptions of the BAL, highlighting its competitiveness. Coached by 2-time NBA champion Rasheed Hazzard, the Tigers aim to finish in the top four in the Nile Conference in Cairo, in a bid to reach the playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda, in May.

Although Wade has been out of the game for almost a year since injuring his knee with Salt Lake City in the G League, he contributed nine points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench in the Tigers’ opening win against Guinean side SLAC. In the defeat to Petro de Luanda, he again showed bright moments, leading Tigers coach Hazzard to passionately defend him in a post-match press conference. Hazzard has his own experience of the challenges of expectations, being the son of 1968 NBA All-Star Walt Hazzard. Wade said he was grateful for Hazzard’s mentorship, which he described as “coming up to me and really just telling me that he’s got me and just giving me his experiences as well, so that I can see it from a different perspective – someone who has walked a very similar path.”

Wade and his father also share a passion for basketball, with Dwyane expected to visit Cape Town to watch his son soon. Despite everything, Wade has no doubts about his father’s love for his kids. He said, “He hasn’t given me an exact date yet because he wants to keep me on my toes, but he’ll be out here soon…It’s true [what people say about him] being a father first. He’s always done that, so I know I’ll see him soon. We’ll have our moment; we’ll have our talk and then get to work.” For now, the younger Wade is focused on helping the Tigers make it to the playoffs and silencing the critics of the BAL, which airs on ESPN’s channels in Africa.

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