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Dwyane Wade's new game show gig, and why he and Gabrielle Union would be ‘terrible’ contestants

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Dwyane Wade won three NBA championships for Miami, but it's a glass box that's bringing the heat on his new game show.

TBS' "The Cube," premiering Thursday (9 EDT/PDT), is based on a British format in which teams of two attempt to complete a series of deceptively easy games – like emptying a box of balls or counting rapidly moving squares – inside the structure to win a $250,000 prize. They have nine lives to accomplish seven tasks (with one or two players) and can tap Wade to help them once, a "One Shot."

Wade, who retired from the Miami Heat in 2019, first signed on to the series as an executive producer and was hesitant when approached to host. "But I decided to take the challenge because it was something that I was a little afraid of doing," he says. "Once I got the chance to know the game, I was like, 'Oh, we can really do some good here as well. So it was a win-win.'"

Wade, 39, says his interaction with the contestants made hosting the 11-episode season memorable.

"It was actually emotional," he says. "I went home most nights drained a little bit, not just from the hours but really getting so emotionally invested into each contestant’s story and the reason they were there."

Wade spoke with USA TODAY this week about his new gig, the pressure of "The Cube," and how he thinks he and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, would fare as show contestants. (Spoiler alert: Not great!)

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

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Question: How does it feel when a team calls in their "One Shot"? Are you nervous?

Dwyane Wade: There is so much pressure. I'm sitting there for hours. I’m doing multiple groups per day. I'm getting three or four different (teams) in per day, and then it's like, in the midst of the heated moment, they like, "OK, Let’s call D in to do it."

And I haven’t practiced; I can't go in there and warm up. The only thing I can do is run back and change my outfit, but that’s it. I don’t even go in the back and get a chance to play the game. So it's definitely a lot of pressure, but it’s real, too. It’s like the contestants... But I went in there and represented.

Q: Is there one game in particular for which you hoped you weren't called in?

Wade: There was one game that I could not beat. It was the game where you have to put 25 balls into the glass container in 20 seconds. That was almost impossible for me to do. I tried it the day I was practicing (the games), I tried it over and over and over, and I couldn't complete it.... So, that was the one I was like, "Don't call me. I’m not gonna be able to do it."

Q: In one episode, you deliver a rather inspirational speech to a player who has lost all confidence. Do you feel being a coach is part of your role as host?

Wade: One hundred percent. I think that’s one of the reasons why they wanted me to host it as well. I’m used to being in the locker room. I know how to motivate guys as leaders. Also, too, I have the compassion. In those moments, sometimes I crack jokes and I’m trying to push them, and there’s other moments where I’m in there with them. I want them to feel like we all are in this together.

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Q: How do you think that you and Gabrielle would do competing as a team on the show?

Wade: Terrible (laughs). I give couples a lot of credit. You would think that’s who you’re supposed to work best with, your significant other, but I think it's hard. Me and my wife are both alphas, and sometimes you got two alphas in there, it can mess things up. So I don’t know how well we would do, unless we really both came in very humble, like "If you think you got it, I'mma let you."

We was on our honeymoon, and we were in there kayaking, and she wanted to go one way, and I wanted to go another way. If you ever want to challenge your relationship, just go kayaking together. And you’ll see that it is not that easy to communicate.

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Q: Is your daughter Kaavia James going to watch "The Cube," and if so, are you worried about what the Shady Baby's review might be?

Wade: She’s definitely gonna watch. And I just hope she sit down and watch cause she'll probably just be like, "OK, Dad’s on TV," and just go and do something else.

Zaya and I – the other night after basketball, (TBS) played "The Cube" (in a sneak preview on Saturday ). And Zaya was sitting there watching it with me, and it was just so cool to see her all into it and her responses. Neither one of us wanted to leave the TV. I was almost late for dinner trying to watch it. She was the same way. It was just so cool, and I cannot wait till the whole family can sit down and sit back and watch at least the first episode together, and then everybody can go off and do what they do.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dwyane Wade: 'The Cube' and how he and Gabrielle Union would fare