As athletes, people never really see us out of our uniforms. They just see us on the court, field or track, and at the time, we’re really focused and intense. That can lead to preconceived notions about who we are. People know me for what I do—for playing basketball. But a lot of people don’t have a chance to see the other sides of me.
I was really surprised when I had some teammates say they didn’t know about my hobbies and interests. I guess I’m an introvert at heart. Once I have people around me, people I feel comfortable with, I open up and relax and I can be my awesome self. That realization inspired me to start sharing more.
I thought a blog would provide me a space to give fans, friends and everyone else a deeper look into my personal side. I want to use this as an opportunity to do something a little different and talk about what I enjoy doing, what’s meaningful to me, what I find interesting.
In the future, I plan to write about the things I care about: my family, cooking, music, travel, fashion, technology, among other topics. And in the process, I’ll try to create a clearer picture of my life, on and off the court.
For those of you who only know me in uniform and in the heat of competition, I hope you’ll come to know me a little better through these posts. And I welcome your comments and thoughts too. I’ve learned a lot from the people around me. I’m really open to what’s to come and look forward to this new journey.
Being in the hospital was a true wake-up call. It’s crazy how these things happen, but being told I had blood clots in my lung, being confined to the hospital for over a week, not being able to do things on my own—it really changed my perspective. Before, I understood to a degree what people in hospitals go through. But usually I’m the one going to the hospital to cheer people up and hopefully give them some words of encouragement. When the roles were reversed, I was able to experience things from the other side.
During my stay, I wanted nothing more than to do all those little, everyday things, like go for a day without pain, take a shower, go to the restroom without having someone help me to the door. I wanted to move without help and pain and an IV and drainage machine, to have that autonomy.
I really looked forward to having visitors because they gave me some reminder of what I’d been doing before and what was going on outside the hospital walls. Those times when people came to visit were bright spots in my days.
My brother came down from Atlanta, arriving the day after I got the news. And he spent time with me every day I was in the hospital. The only thing we had to do was watch TV—“Family Guy,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “SportsCenter”—and talk. Having his company took my mind off of the reason I was there.
My trainer would stop by over lunchtime each day and we’d eat together. My best friend visited every night for a few hours. They really picked up my spirits with their daily presence. Sometimes, when I wasn’t feeling well, they’d just watch me sleep. Other times, I’d have to take some of my medication and when it kicked in, I’d feel woozy and tired. But they understood and still returned the next day.
Pat Riley came to see me one day and we just sat there and talked for a little while. He shared stories about basketball and other players who had been hurt during his career. He always has a good story to tell.
Spo—Erik Spoelstra—came by too and dropped off some self-motivation and business-related books for me to read since I had more free time on my hands. We both enjoy reading, so it was a really thoughtful gesture and helped me pass the time.
Dwayne Wade stopped by right after Spo and we spent some time together and talked about how quickly things changed. As a good friend and teammate, he understood how much of a bummer it is to not be able to play, and I knew my absence put some more pressure on him too.
It meant a lot that Pat, Spo and Dwayne all came to visit, especially because they came on game days after playing a game the night before. They had every reason to say they were tired and were just going to catch up on rest, but they came anyway to talk to me and check on me.
Seeing my children was pretty tough. I’m usually the invincible one that they can climb on and wrestle with, but I was in a bed and in pain. I didn’t want them to see me like that. Still, I tried my best to let them sit on my lap so I could talk to them and play as much as I could. My son was asking questions, wanting to see the doctor and looking at the numbers on all the machines. My daughter just wanted to play with me.
Throughout my time in the hospital, I urged my wife to go home to the kids because I didn’t want to be a burden, but Adrienne only left my side for a night or so. She was with me every step of the way, and I couldn’t have gone through this experience without her. Having a supportive partner by my side was invaluable. She was always there, making sure everything went well and that I had everything I needed.
My family really reminded me what I was fighting for. They made me want to put on a brave face and show strength. I realized that things weren’t that bad because I still had my kids, my family.
Now, I’m on the mend, thanks to the skill of my doctors and the support of my family, friends, team and fans. I’m committed to visiting people in the hospital in the future because I know how much it meant to me. I’ve come through this experience with a new perspective and a deeper appreciation for the people in my life. It’s made me realize how lucky I am. And for that, I have to be thankful.
Not too long ago, my wife, Adrienne, and I did a wine tasting with some folks from the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley areas. They were so passionate about food and wine pairings that it inspired me to host a dinner party and create my own menu, complete with wine and beer pairings. My menu, table setting, colors, all the details tied back to a Napa Valley theme.
I had two main goals for this meal: to gather good friends around the table and to serve food and drinks that highlighted the season. And after going through the process, I came up with a few tips for planning a really great outdoor meal:
It’s a good idea to start making plans at least a couple of weeks before the party. Adrienne loves getting people together and throwing parties, so in talking with her, I’ve gained a lot of insight into how much impact the small details can have. If you’re into Pinterest, make a new board to gather all your inspiration—invitations, recipes, décor, the whole nine yards. Maybe you have a theme or a color scheme in mind. Or maybe you start out with a specific food or drink. Whatever your initial inspiration, build out your meal from there.
Do your research.
I really enjoy learning about beer and wine, so I did some research on seasonal varieties of beer and different wines pairings that would complement the food I planned to serve. Dive into what you’re interested in and do a little research to learn more, get inspired and find new ideas. And I’m not talking about boring research like you might have done in school—this is your chance to have fun with it!
When it comes to outdoor meals, the season is a big part of the experience. Keeping the spring season in mind, I knew I wanted to serve food that was at its peak during this time—vegetables, fruits, and an incredible main course of lamb shanks. Light, fresh foods and crisp wines would be a great way to celebrate the renewal of nature, the great outdoors and all that spring has to offer.
Try something new.
A special meal or party is the perfect time to think outside your usual rotation of foods. You can really make it memorable by preparing or presenting the food in a unique way or by serving a new type of dish or drink. I like to work with my chef to experiment, sample new dishes ahead of time and make any necessary adjustments. That way, I can feel confident that everything will turn out just right the day of the party.
Create an experience.
You know that experience you have when you eat at a restaurant with inventive chefs and knowledgeable sommeliers? I like to get ideas from places I’ve been—restaurants, different cities and countries—and bring that type of gourmet experience to my home. Consider some of your favorite or most memorable meals and use details from those times to inspire your own spread.
With all my plans set, the dinner party turned out even better than I envisioned. The Napa Valley theme ran through every aspect of the meal, and we could all enjoy the good weather, good food and good company. I hope these tips can help you create an outstanding outdoor meal of your own.
Competing at a high level involves a lot of pressure. And when I’m out in public, my guard is often up. Those are just the realities of my job. But within the walls of my own home, I can feel fully comfortable.
My kids don’t care who won last night’s game. They like basketball and want to see Dad happy, but when it comes down to it, they just want to play and have fun with me. I’m “Dad” to them, not a basketball star or an athlete. Even after a rough night, when I go home to my family, I know I have to leave basketball at the gym. I have to resist taking any frustration or disappointment with me. My kids encourage me to look on the bright side.
After the 2011 finals when we lost, I was devastated. But my daughter Trinity, who was about three years old at the time, told me, “Don’t be sad, Daddy.” And I realized at that moment, I can’t be mad or upset—it was time to hang out with my daughter, not dwell on the outcome of the game.
Marriage, like basketball, is definitely a team effort. My wife, Adrienne, is a huge support for me. She attends every game, bringing friends along to cheer me on, even after a long day. Her presence motivates me. I remember our crucial win over the Spurs in Game 6 a couple years ago. Toward the end of the game, I’ll admit I was considering a loss. I had doubts about whether we could pull off a win.
But I looked over at Adrienne and she was standing up and clapping, not looking at me, just cheering for our team. There were people walking out, people who thought the game was pretty much over, but her positivity snapped me back into the game and I ended up making some big plays. I’m not sure that would have happened if I hadn’t witnessed her show of support.
From the perspective of an athlete, having a peaceful home and a supportive family makes a world of difference. My wife, kids and extended family are truly my biggest fans, my most enthusiastic cheerleaders, my most faithful supporters.