April 13, 2022 

‘Sit back and watch’: How James Wade experienced the 2022 WNBA Draft

For the Chicago Sky, no picks but lots of paninis

In 2021, Mike Thibault and the Washington Mystics went into draft night without any picks. They had shipped off all of their draft capital the previous year in a deal that landed them all-star center Tina Charles. They fielded all of two calls during the day but Thibault wasn’t interested in entering the sweepstakes. Last night, the Chicago Sky found itself in the same position. Thibault offered some sage advice to James Wade.

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“Order out good food and beverages and sit back and watch,” he said.

That is exactly what Sky head coach and general manager James Wade did with his staff on Monday night. Chicago gave up all three picks in this year’s draft over the past couple seasons and are in win-now mode with a veteran laden roster. With training camp set to start in five days, yesterday was one of the last mellow 24-hour periods Wade will have before the WNBA season ramps up. He spoke with The Next about what he did throughout Monday.

Morning: Summoning the power of Juice & Toya

Wade started the morning off making himself what has been his go-to breakfast over the past two weeks: granola and bananas.

“I’m in that type of phase,” Wade said. “I’m going to stay there until something else takes my attention.”

Post-granola, Wade pulled up his favorite workout duo’s YouTube page: Juice & Toya. He discovered the married couple’s channel during the pandemic when he was searching for various HIIT workouts. Wade landed on Juice & Toya and went through a 30-minute workout with them yesterday.

“They just seem so happy so I said I was going to do it with them,” said Wade. “I thought maybe I could get my wife to do it with me one day so that’s why I chose them.”

According to a source close to the situation (Wade), he has been unable to convince his wife, Edwige Lawson-Wade, to join him on his daily virtual convocations with Juice & Toya.

Afternoon: Russian lessons, family in France, and reading

After getting through Juice & Toya’s exercises, Wade worked on his Russian, something he practices a little bit everyday. He didn’t have class yesterday but he has a tutor to help him keep up with the language. Wade coached in Russia for a number of years and believes that in order to maintain fluency it is necessary to continue to practice.

“I just don’t want to get lost on it,” Wade said. “I probably wouldn’t at this point but it’s just the fact I have had the same teacher for so long that I continue with it.”

One of the challenging parts living in Southern France in the offseason is the separation between Wade and his family. In order to lessen the distance between them, James, Edwige and their son, Jet, FaceTime before school starts for the six-year-old. Based on countless Instagram stories from Edwige, Jet has dominated youth soccer overseas and has taken an interest in the sport.

James admitted being soccer parents has been a slight adjustment for him and Edwige, both who have experienced significant success in their basketball careers. Understanding the importance the sport holds for his parents, Jet sat down with his mom to explain that he wasn’t interested in basketball.

“He said [basketball] is ours and football is his,” said James. “I was surprised to hear that from a six-year-old. He still hasn’t told me yet but he told my wife that. I don’t know if he is afraid to tell me, but she described the conversation and I just thought it was the most enlightening conversation a six-year-old could have.

“I wish I was there to hear it. But the way she told me was funny and we are going to continue to support him.”

With Jet’s infatuation with soccer continuing to blossom, Wade read parts of “The Barcelona Complex” before the draft. The book details the rise — and fall — of FC Barcelona. He received it as a gift and initially was reluctant to read it but Jet’s passion for soccer drove Wade to invest more into his son’s go-to sport.

“I want to make sure my interests are aligned with his interests because he is really invested in [soccer],” said Wade. “He makes that more and more clear with every conversation so I’ve decided to go 100% into it with him and support him as much as possible.”

Close to the draft: meeting with the staff

There were a few teams that called Wade yesterday, but nothing came to fruition for the Sky getting involved with the draft. The 2019 Coach of the Year and his staff congregated in Deerfield to watch other WNBA teams fend off the stress that comes with choosing between which prospects make sense for their organizations. They ordered in from Corner Bakery Cafe, where Wade got a chicken pomodori panini, roasted tomato basil soup, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. He tried to order the chocolate baby bundt cake but, heartbreakingly, the bakery was out of it. Corner Bakery Cafe did not respond to The Next’s inquiry about why they did not make more bundt cakes on the night of the WNBA draft.

Training camp is now four days away and all the attention for the Sky’s coaching staff is shaping out the roster ahead of the season opener.

“I’m excited but you have to take it in steps,” said Wade. “I’m focused on making the roster complementary and make sure everybody is here and ready to play. You have to take it in stages and try not to skip any.”

Written by James Kay

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