Dwyane Wade has a lot to smile about these days. In April, it was announced that he would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. About four years since his retirement, the 3-time NBA champion now has more time to spend with his beautiful family, tend to his business ventures, investments, and can also focus more on new endeavors, such his hosting and executive producer duties for The Cube on TBS.
The exciting competition series returned on Sunday, and featured La La Anthony alongside Dwyane’s wife, Gabrielle Union-Wade. Now in its second season, The Cube will follow contestant pairs who must demonstrate skill, nerve and determination as they endure seemingly simple physical and mental tasks – all while confined in an intimidating glass box, in hopes of winning a major cash prize.
In helming a game show for an iconic network, the Chicago native takes to this task the same way he goes about life. “It’s on me, you know what I mean?,” he says. “It’s on me, just like everything else, it’s no different.” To celebrate The Cube’s new season, Wade spoke with ESSENCE about helming the series, life outside of basketball, the state of women’s sports, and more.
First of all, I want to first of all congratulate you on your upcoming induction into the NBA Hall of Fame – the basketball Hall of Fame. How do you feel about that?
Aw, man. First of all, thank you, man. I feel amazing about it, because I know I put the work in and I know how hard it was to accomplish, you know what I mean? Growing up with how I grew up and to be a young kid and set out to try to do something that seems unimaginable, seems impossible – improbable in a way. And to be able to sit here at 41 years old and know that it’s reality, I feel amazing. Because I know all the work and the times that I wanted to quit on myself, but I didn’t, to other people told me I couldn’t do it, and I did, you know the journey. It definitely feels great.
Did you ever set the Hall of Fame as being a goal for you growing up? Or did that just happen organically?
I think that came over the years, once I realized what it meant. When I first started playing, man, you just played for fun. When I turned 17 years old, I realized that I wanted to put everything into trying to be one of the greatest to ever play. I said it in my yearbook, I had goals, I had things I wanted to do, and I wanted to be one of the greatest to ever play. I knew being one of the greatest means you end up in the Hall of Fame. That goal started at 17 years old, to end up where I am at 41 years old, no doubt about it.
How do you feel about the progression of women’s sports? And where do you see the WNBA going in the next couple years?
I love it. We share a language that the rest of the world doesn’t share. When you see so many guys from the NBA you see sitting there either tweeting about, or sitting courtside and watching their favorite players hoop. It’s a beautiful game that they play and it’s becoming more entertaining, more explosive. I just look at it and say, “Man, the WNBA is in its 25th year. The NBA is in the 75th year. It has so much more room to grow.” The fan base is young and so the fan base is growing as well. I love to see where the game is going. I can’t wait for the next 25 years. I’m going to try to continue to be connected to the WNBA.
You played the game at such a high level, and were very competitive. What initially intrigued you about becoming a game show host for The Cube?
Well, the initial interest of me even saying, “Yes,” was because I was actually scared to say, “Yes,” to be honest with you. I never dreamed of this before. I looked at it as a daunting thing to do like, “What I got to do? I have to read off teleprompters. I have to know all these game things. I have to…” You know what I mean? I started thinking about all the things that I think the host does, and I’m like, “No, I can’t do that.” Now, as a competitor, as someone who’s been there before, where I’ve been challenged with not believing in something, I have to push myself. And I was like, “You know what? I have to get uncomfortable. This is the next thing that’s in front of me, the hurdle that I need to jump over and let me try to do it.”
I was already brought on and I said, “Yes,” to be an executive producer because I really loved the concept of The Cube. I love history, the rich history from the UK of The Cube. The challenge was being a host and I had to do it the first season in the pandemic, with no audience, not being able to touch anybody, wearing a mask all day. It was tough.
But coming back for our second season and having a little bit more say so as the executive producer about how the show can be run, how the contestants can be better. We saw an uptick this year. I’m really excited for everybody to get a chance to experience one, me as the host, but two, just experience this connection with the contestants, man. It’s going to come off very well and very wholesome, because everyone’s going to be able to connect with one of our different contestants that’s on there. Their stories are just like everyone else’s story and so it’s cool.
What can viewers expect from this upcoming season of The Cube?
I think the best thing about this season, as I said, is the storylines of the guests and the contestants. Obviously having my wife on and La La Anthony on, and having Shaq be a part of this, and Iman and Jimmy Allen from a celebrity standpoint, I thank them for coming in and showing that it’s no matter if you’re seven foot and you’re big like Shaq, or you have someone who’s five one like most of our contestants, it’s all a challenge for everybody, no matter if you’re some of the greatest at what you do. This show is one of the hardest. That’s why we say it’s the hardest game show on TV. It may not look like it from the naked eye. Hopefully everyone gets the joy that was put into, the hard work that was put into this.
I’m thankful that it’s coming back. A lot of shows didn’t get picked up this year, and we were in danger of that as well. But here we are, we’re still here. That means there’s something good about this concept, and then hopefully our fan base continues to grow. The ones that we got the first year around, hopefully they stay with us and we just keep growing. I want this show to be around for a decade plus, man, and I think it can be.