By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) _ Dwyane Wade has a tough business decision to make in the next couple weeks, a choice between remaining under contract with the Miami Heat or declaring free agency and possibly changing teams for the first time in his professional life.
Time will tell if a few days studying at Harvard will help with that decision.
Wade isn’t swapping NBA life for MBA life, but believes he’s more aware now. He was part of a group _ fellow basketballers Mason Plumlee and Jerry Stackhouse included _ enrolled in a class at Harvard Business School last week, studying graduate-level business theories.
“To come here and get away from being the athlete, the star, the superstar, whatever they want to call you and to be someone who had to study until 2, 2:30 at night and be up the next day at 8 in the morning for a study group, that is cool _ especially right now with what’s out there,” Wade said in a telephone interview. “But this was a good getaway, for sure.”
What’s “out there” is this: His relationship with the Heat is strained like never before. Wade is under contract for $16.1 million for the 2015-16 season, though can opt out and become a free agent on July 1. Leaving Miami is a possibility. Wade has not said specifically where things stand with the Heat, and the Harvard class wasn’t scheduled for contract-prepping purposes.
“This had been on my schedule for months,” said Wade, who will return to ABC as an NBA Finals analyst for Game 6 on Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Just to get into the class at Harvard, which comes with a tuition fee of around $8,000 and is mostly geared toward senior executives, Wade had to fill out an application and then be selected just like anyone else. What Harvard has tried to do with this relatively new concept is ensure that the classes have as many diverse views as possible.
Wade learned of the class through NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who took it last year after contacting Harvard faculty chair and business administration professor Anita Elberse because he had read a book she wrote and wanted more information.
Marshall also vouched for Wade, saying he would be a fine addition to this year’s “The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports” class _ one of several Executive Education programs that Harvard offers, many of them lasting just a few days. It’s separate from other programs Harvard has previously offered pro athletes, such as one where NFL players could learn about personal investing and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The goal for Elberse’s class is simple. From case studies on the likes of Real Madrid, Beyonce, Jay Z and even LeBron James _ Wade’s close friend and former teammate _ students are urged to try to understand the strategies that are being used in media, entertainment and sports and figure out if they fit their own particular situations.
“There’s a lot of thinking that goes into us trying to get the right group together,” Elberse said. “With even the Dwyane Wades of this world, we have to make sure they’re the right fit for the program.”
Wade said he wasn’t intimidated by going to Harvard for such a program, even though just about everyone else in the room was a perfect stranger when the class began.
“For me, it’s about what’s next,” Wade said. “I had people say, `Wow, what are you doing here?’ They didn’t know what excites me, how I am, how I thirst for knowledge. So for me, it’s about taking what we learned here and see how it fits into what’s next.”