There's embarrassing personal dilemmas, times when good intentions go wrong, and failed business deals.
And then there's a briefcase of cash and Dwyane Wade's roiling drama with is-he-or-isn't-he-a-Baron Richard von Houtman, a moderately press-suppressed debacle of outrageous proportions encompassing all four situations -- a gossipy mess so sticky and hot, it could only have started here in Miami.
It's a long story, involving a British muscle-man with a plan (von Houtman), an unfortunate middleman (Wade crony Marcus Andrews), and a restaurant-memorabilia chain called "D-Wade's Sports Grills." Oh, and various lawsuits, counter-suits, and accusations of abandonment, steroid use, drug abuse, orgies, identity fraud, and completely out-of-control sunshine consumption (the last accusation: ours). Toss in star power and more than a few messy divorces, and you end up with a mouthy maybe-noble painting over a glowing D-Wade for the camera.
The situation is unfortunate at best, but it does beg the question: exactly how shady/greedy/obtuse/dumb was - or is - Dwyane Wade? The deal should have ended when it began, which is incredibly clear with even the briefest glance at the facts and a passing knowledge of Planet Hollywood. Have we learned nothing from Bruce Willis?
See, it's possible Wade was just bamboozled by von Houtman, the former associate of a dead Dutch drug kingpin, whose home had been seized by US Customs and who'd been arrested for assaulting police. There's no way of knowing if Wade knew about those things, and a long, sad trail exists of suddenly wealthy athletes who've been duped into shiny investments by smooth-talking businessmen looking for a lot of cash for a little work.
He could be excused for getting himself into the first mess - found dumb, certainly, but excused.
But understanding stops at the briefcase of cash the AP uncovered when they took a load off the New Times and dug up some more info:
"They just wanted to get him involved, and wanted me to talk to him about getting him involved," Wade said in his deposition.
There was an incentive: Andrews gave Wade a suitcase from von Houtman with $100,000 in cash as a bonus for O'Neal. Wade said von Houtman also promised him another $100,000, so when O'Neal rejected the restaurant overture Wade kept the cash "like a sign-on bonus," Wade testified.
Good grief. There are two things you don't want to find in a briefcase, ever: cash, and bones (okay, three: an infuriating series of smaller briefcases). If you do have cash in a briefcase, and you aren't headed to ransom a beloved relative from certain death, you can be sure you're up to something wildly inappropriate or incredibly stupid and you deserve whatever legal entanglements ensue.
Furthermore, we know from Shaq's aborted divorce proceedings that $100k doesn't even begin to cover his monthly fun budget, so popping open a briefcase of cash in front of the big man must have been a bit like bribing a tiger with a kibble.
And that just makes us sad; the whole sordid affair is so pathetic and avoidable. We don't want to see it happen again, either, so if we may, a Johnny Cochran-ism for our special Heat friend:
"If the deal needs cash, it's not for Flash."
Janie Campbell would give Dwyane Wade a briefcase with $5 in it to re-up with the Heat. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.