HAMPTON, Va. – Zaire Wade fully contends that having an NBA star dad like Dwyane Wade and an actress stepmom like Gabrielle Union, who’s currently sitting on Hollywood’s A-List, attend his Nike EYBL games is the true definition of the gift and the curse.
“Of course I want them there, but it does bring a lot of attention,” Zaire said. “Everybody wants to meet them when they come. That’s more pressure on me.”
Such is the life of a star’s kid.
From Jeff and Marcus Jordan, sons of Michael Jordan, to Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille O’Neal, finding the healthy balance to combat the inevitably lofty expectations can be quite the chore.
“I always want them there,” Zaire said. “I just had to find out how to block out everything else and play. People think it’s easier on me because of who my dad is, but it’s way harder.”
Given, Zaire certainly benefits from Dwyane’s constant first-hand tutelage, but Zaire, 16, is quick to point out that the tradeoff for his bloodline is the proverbial magnifying glass.
“I can’t just be good, I have to be great,” Zaire said. “I have to work so much harder than other players. When I was younger that used to bother me, and I would try to play like my dad. He would always just tell me to play my game because we’re different players. Ever since I realized that, it’s been a lot easier.”
In his first year on the Nike EYBL, widely regarded as the most difficult shoe circuit of the spring and summer, Zaire is averaging 5.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists a game for E1T1 (Fla.).
Zaire is a 6-foot-2, athletic facilitator of a point guard who has the innate ability to get his teammates the ball at the precise moment that they’ll make their greatest impact on the game.
That’s caught the attention of schools like Michigan State, Florida State, and Toledo, among others.
“My dad would love to play with a point guard like me,” Zaire said with a laugh. “I know how to get him the ball. He taught me everything I know.”
For that reason, Zaire said Dwyane readily details his constructive criticisms after games.
When asked who is harder on him after games between Dwyane and Union, Zaire smiled and paused before saying, “That’s too close to say.”
He had an even better response when posed with the question about who played the postgame good cop and bad cop roles between the two, matter-of-factly stating that, “There are no good cops.”
“It’s bad cop, bad cop,” Zaire said with a laugh. “It’s cool though because, honestly, they give me great advice. My dad just sees the game from a different level and Nicky (Union) too. She really knows the game. I appreciate them; I know they want me to be the best that I can be. I need that with all the other pressures on me.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY