MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — For James Wade, it was easy to fall in love with basketball growing up in Memphis.
“Going to different community centers and playing, quitting basketball practice and going to play at Greenlaw, not doing homework and going straight to the community center,” Wade said of reminiscing about his youth.
He also attended Shelby Metro basketball camps each summer.
“Once you were in those camps, you really felt the pulse of the city in those camps. Like, you felt like you came from Memphis and you felt a certain pride to be there and so you play hard.
It was these camps that also led him to become a coach, returning home in the summer while playing college ball.
“I wanted to be at camp. I want to work with the younger children in the camp. My brother was still attending camp and he was actually the one who talked to Coach Holmes. He was like, ‘Hey coach, if you need to work with my brother, I just got to college.’ He was like, ‘yeah, tell them to call me.’ So once I got involved and saw how much fun coaching was, that’s when I said, OK, maybe I want to do this after I’m done with playing basketball because it felt like three of the best summers of my life.
“You felt the effect the coaches had on you and now you’ve seen the effect you had on them.”
Wade was drawn to women’s basketball because of his wife Edwige, who played five seasons in the WNBA and won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics with France.
After serving as an assistant coach in the WNBA and overseas for six years, he was named head coach of the Chicago Sky in 2018.
In his first season with the Sky, he led the team to its first playoff appearance in three years and was named WNBA Coach of the Year.
“At one point I couldn’t, I was kind of like, wow, this is really happening. But now I’m just into it,” Wade said with a laugh.
In 2021, the Sky would win their first WNBA title. Wade attributes his team’s success to the fundamentals he learned at Shelby Metro camps.
“My Finals MVP, Kahleah Copper, she, they were so mad at me last year when we had the Olympic break, because I ran it like a Shelby Metro camp. We were doing 3v3, 1v1, we were doing all of that. Eventually, I mean, that was key for us to turn the season around and win the final. But everything was Shelby Metro right there.
Wade was named the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game Head Coach for Team Stewart.
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