Dwyane Wade wanted there to be no doubt whatsoever.
"This is Jimmy Butler’s team."
Taking a cue from former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Wade told reporters Friday during his introductory press conference — after a matter-of-fact joke that the Bulls' are Jerry Reinsdorf's team — that Butler is the leader of this Bulls squad, and his intent was to get that out of the way early and avoid a season-long controversy.
"We're not going to go through this all year. This is Jimmy Butler's team," Wade said. "Myself and (Rajon) Rondo are here to bring what we bring as athletes to this team and to this city. (Butler's) a young bull on this team. He's a 26-year-old that can play 40 minutes a game if coach wants him to and maybe more. I ain't trying to do all that. And we're going to depend on him a lot.
"This is a guy I've known since Marquette University, that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. And as much as Gar (Forman) and John Paxson and everyone did an amazing job of making sure this could happen, this wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler called me and told me he wanted me here, and that was huge because at the time I didn't know. At the time, hometown kid, Derrick Rose, here and he leaves. (Joakim) Noah who's very known here leaves. It's now Jimmy's team. So to want to bring in a guy like myself and Rondo, it shows what he's about. He's about winning.
"It won't be a tug and pull of whose team it is. We're all playing together. We all have one common goal, and that's to win. Jimmy's going to be Jimmy Butler, and I think he's going to grow and be a better ballplayer because of what Rondo brings to the game and because of what I bring."
Wade is one of two multi-time All Stars to join the Bulls this season, arriving in Chicago with Rondo to play alongside Butler on a new-look Bulls team. All that veteran star power — as well as past discussions over the topic involving Butler and former Bulls guard Derrick Rose — prompted the question.
Wade had an answer ready to go.
And the inspiration for Friday’s proclamation came a decade earlier, when O’Neal teamed with Wade in Miami following his three championship wins with the Lakers.
"It's funny to be sitting in this seat," Wade said. "I remember when Shaquille O'Neal came to Miami, coming from the Lakers, three championships. He came to Miami, and we had no championships at the time. And I remember his press conference. I was playing in the Olympics at the time, like Jimmy is right now. And I remember Shaq said, 'We're not going to go through this all year. It's Dwyane Wade's team.'"
Wade has been on superstar-laden rosters before, not only winning a title with O'Neal but also winning a pair of championships alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami, so he's used to this type of environment.
"I can't come into this situation thinking it's going to be the same as when me, Chris and LeBron played together. It's a different situation," Wade said. "I'm excited about playing with two guys I respect as competitors first. ... We'll learn what we need to do, just like we did in Miami, we learned what we needed to do.
"I think the only parallel from that is I've played in my career with other guys that are alphas. ... We have three strong personalities, we have three leaders."
There's been a longstanding rumor that Dwyane Wade used the Bulls as leverage during the free agency summer of 2010.
Wade put that notion to rest on Friday.
During his introductory press conference with the Bulls at the Advocate Center, Wade opened up about how close he was to signing with the Bulls after meeting with the organization twice in 2010 before deciding to form the "Big 3" in Miami with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
"There's a notion out there that I used the Bulls for some sort of leverage (in 2010)," Wade said. "It's a place I really wanted to be.
"They gave me a Bulls jersey in 2010. I went home, put it on, took a picture"
Ultimately, despite his heart trying to sway him to Chicago, the decision came down to Wade not wanting to pass up the opportunity to play with James and Bosh in Miami.
As close as Wade came to becoming a member of the Bulls in 2010, it wasn't the first time that the Chicago native thought he would be playing for his hometown team.
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The Bulls were the only team that put Wade through multiple workouts before the 2003 NBA Draft.
"I thought for sure I was coming here," Wade revealed.
It looks like the third time was the charm for Wade and the Bulls.
The Bulls and New York Knicks may not be favorites in the Eastern Conference this season, but the myriad storylines between the two teams could create a rivalry.
"I know you guys want that. I know you’re living for that," Carmelo Anthony told reporters at Thursday's USA Basketball practice at the United Center. "We embrace that."
The obvious connection between the two teams stems from the June trade that sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Rose, a Chicago native, spent the first eight seasons of his NBA career with the Bulls. Less than a month later free agent Joakim Noah joined Rose in New York, signing a four-year deal with the Knicks after nine seasons with the Bulls.
The Bulls courted Anthony in free agency two summers ago, only for the future Hall of Famer to re-sign with the Knicks on a five-year, $124 million deal. Anthony is a close friend of fellow 2003 draftee Dwyane Wade, who signed with the Bulls on a two-year deal and was introduced by the team on Friday.
Both the Bulls and Knicks were aggressive this offseason in an attempt to get back to the postseason. In addition to signing Wade, the Bulls also drafted Michigan State's Denzel Valentine and signed point guard Rajon Rondo to a two-year deal. They also added Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant in the Rose deal.
The Knicks didn't stop after dealing for Rose, signing Eric Gordon, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee as free agents.
The Bulls and Knicks will meet four times in the regular season, and Anthony said he'll embrace the competition between the two teams.
"I think as players, as competitors," he said, "we embrace all of those challenges and rivalries. And that’s what makes the sport great again."
See what else Anthony had to say, including his experiences with Team USA, in the video above.