Former pro athletes are usually done with the pro part of their lives by their late 30s and have to find other things to do. Some coach. Some teach. Some become analysts on TV.
Dwyane Wade actually did basketball analyst work for TNT for three years after he retired from the NBA in 2019 after a Hall of Fame career. Though he stepped down from that role last year, he has kept his relationship with Warner Bros. Discovery by hosting the game show “The Cube,” which returned for a second season on sister station TBS earlier this month.
In “The Cube,” which is shot in metro Atlanta, two players tackle increasingly difficult physical and mental challenges in a small translucent cube with the chance to win up to $250,000. There are 60 different types of games to choose from, many involving finishing a task in a particular amount of time, memorizing particular patterns or quickly learning a puzzle on the fly.
The cube talks, sometimes seriously, sometimes snarkily. (The voice is kept secret, though Wade said it’s a friend he can’t name.) Contestants have just nine lives to complete seven challenges and they can bow out at any time before running out of lives.
Nobody has yet hit the magic $250,000 mark.
I recently spoke with Wade about the show, which started in Britain in 2009 and ran until 2021. Here are the highlights:
Being a host not on Wade’s bucket list: “When I was younger, I wanted to go on game shows, not be the host. My favorite game show as a kid was ‘The Bozo Show,’ a local show in Chicago. I grew up in the slime of ‘Double Dare.’ I am still a fan of ‘Family Feud’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ You watch and think you can win and yell at the TV.”
Why he decided to host: “It was timing. I was first pitched to be an executive producer. I went and took my time to go look at as much footage as possible from the U.K. version to see why it was so successful. I felt like we needed something uplifting for the whole family. They asked me to be the host and I thought they were crazy!”
Favorite game show host: Steve Harvey on “Family Feud.” “I’m not a comedian. I cannot be that funny. But I love watching him because he’s a natural.”
Host-player angle: One of the cool twists is the ability for Wade to attempt to win the challenge on behalf of the contestants. “That’s a good wrinkle we put in coming in as a former athlete. I try to get in and do it as well as I can. I try to make it work. Sometimes I fail but when I succeed, I feel like it’s a game-winning shot for all of us.”
How he changed season one to season two: “I watched game film. I stopped trying to be the host of a game show. I invited people into my home and used the cube to get to know them. I stopped being so structured. I’m a little more laid back. I just want to help these folks win the money. You get emotionally connected to their stories.”
Bringing his wife Gabrielle Union and her friend LaLa Anthony in for the first episode of season two to compete for charity: “Gabrielle just needed the right partner. Once she was able to talk to La, who was shooting ‘BMF’ at the same time [in Atlanta], she was in. She got off the set of ‘BMF’ and shot this with my wife. It was a good vibe. I know how competitive the two of them are. I knew how to push them. They had fun.”
Other celebrity guests this season: Part-time Atlantan NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, Atlantan and former NBA star Iman Shumpert and country singer Jimmie Allen.
New element for season two: If you reach the $50,000 mark, you get to “try out” the next game and see if it’s worth going for the next level of $100,000: “If you use a trial run, it won’t hurt you. You can at least get familiar with the game. These are hard challenges. I’ve seen people not come out of the $1,000 game with a life.”
Is Wade interested at all in running for Senate in Florida? “No, sir.”
IF YOU WATCH
“The Cube,” 9 p.m. Sundays on TBS
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