SALT LAKE CITY — There was plenty of Wade Cellars wine and Casamigos tequila to go around for those who wanted it.
Dwyane Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union’s personal chef, Richard Ingraham, also prepared an amazing dinner for an extremely exclusive group of guests — handpicked by Wade — at a private beach house on behalf of the Stance Socks company.
This is how Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and a select group of his NBA peers were welcomed to San Clemente, California, for the inaugural D. Wade Invitational during the last week of August.
Mitchell mingled with Wade, CJ McCollum, Jimmy Butler, Delon Wright, Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor, Caron Butler and other celebrities for the kickoff mixer on Monday, Aug. 27, then the next day it was back in the lab for business.
That Tuesday, Aug. 28, Mitchell arrived at the Stance World Headquarters facility for an intimate training session alongside Wade, who announced Sunday that he will be returning to Miami for his 16th and final season.
Day 1 started with on-court drills and work with skills trainers, Stanley Remy and Chris Johnson, followed by additional training room fitness implementing dumbbells, barbells and cables from the staff of DBC Fitness — based out of Miami.
The session concluded with a business chat from the staff of Muzik Connect, creators of smart headphones with financial backing from celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Drake and Michael Jordan.
The goal was to provide insight on investing in brands and how a company finds its best match in partnering with an athlete, according to Wade.
“It was really cool to see Dwyane working with all the guys and obviously super fun to have them all around Stance, just watching pickup games and one-on-one games,” said Clarke Miyasaki, Stance’s executive vice president of business development. “It was super fun. That was one of the cool things about it.”
Wade’s invitational would last three more days, with Houston Rockets teammates Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul stopping by later in the week, but Mitchell had to dart after the opening day due to other endeavors. The sole purpose for Wade was to infuse his knowledge of the game into the next generation of rising stars.
“No one said you had to like the process but you must love it,” Wade shared via Instagram, alongside a photo next to Mitchell. “Basketball. Body. Recovery. Business. Taking what I’ve learned over the years and passing it down to the next generation!”
During Mitchell’s highlight-filled rookie campaign in Salt Lake City, he often drew comparisons to Wade in his aggressive style of play. Even during exit interviews, Mitchell vowed to soak in as much knowledge as possible to return as a better player for his sophomore year.
“I’m going to be training with any NBA great possible that I can get in contact with just to pick their brain,” Mitchell foreshadowed. “This isn’t a victory lap summer. It’s been a great year, but in my head there’s a lot more to work on.”
That includes conditioning, ball-handling, shots on the move; floaters and a ton of other skills to fine-tune his game. In fact, he’s already logging extra hours around the practice facility since the start of OTAs on the week of Sept. 3 as Jazz players gather on an optional basis to get ready ahead of training camp.
So as Mitchell returns for his sophomore act, Wade certainly expects a major leap into superstardom much like he did, boosting his scoring average from 16.2 points to 24.1 points per game from Year 1 to Year 2. Mitchell logged a rookie-best 20.5 points per game as the first rookie to lead a 45-win team in scoring since San Antonio’s David Robinson in 1989-90.
“He’s definitely ready,” Wade tweeted Sunday.
But for those in attendance for the inaugural D. Wade Invitational this offseason, it was certainly a sight to see the torch being passed to the new generation.
“I just think they’re super similar on both, how they play and how they are off the court,” Miyasaki explained. “That was a really cool aspect of it for sure because Donovan gets a lot of comparisons to D, and D had him out to train with him and offer advice with whatever he could do for him.
“Dwyane really likes him for sure.”