MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — For James Wade, it was easy to fall in love with the game of basketball growing up in Memphis.

“Going to different community centers and playing, leaving basketball practice and going to Greenlaw to play, not doing your homework and just going straight to to to the community center,” said Wade reminiscing on his youth.

He also attended the Shelby Metro basketball camps every summer.

“Once you were in those camps, you really felt a pulse of the city in those camps. Like, you felt like you were from Memphis and you felt a certain pride being there and so you play hard.”

It was the those camps that also got him into coaching, returning home in the summers while playing college ball.

“I wanted to be at the camp. I want to work with the the younger kids at the camp. My brother was still attending the camp and he was actually the one that talked to Coach Holmes. He was like, ‘hey coach, if you need some work with my brother just got to college.’ He was like, ‘yeah, tell them to call me.’ So, once I got involved and I saw how fun it was to coach, that’s when I said, OK, maybe I want to do this after I finish playing basketball because it was like three of the best summers of my life.”

“You felt the effect that the coaches had on you and now you saw the effect that 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 in the 2012 Olympics with France.

After being an assistant coach in the WNBA and overseas for six years, he was named the 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 in it,” Wade said laughing.

In 2021, the Sky would win its first WNBA title. Wade credits the fundamentals he learned at the Shelby Metro camps for his team’s success.

“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 3-on-3, 1-on-1, we were doing all that stuff. Eventually, I mean, it was a key part to us turning the season around and winning the finals. But it was all Shelby Metro right there.”

Wade was named a 2022 WNBA All-Star game head coach for Team Stewart.