- Photo via stamfordadvocate.com
Dwyane Wade’s injury history reads like a depressing don’t-do list. Dislocated shoulder? Check. Shoulder surgery? Check. Multiple knee surgeries? Check and check. With each additional operation, Wade’s body ages by more than one year at a time. Yet as evidenced by his two championship rings, Wade has successfully kept his biological clock ticking at an appropriate rate.
Despite another knee surgery last off-season, Wade has put together one of his most impressive years ever. He shot 52 percent from the field during the regular season, the best of his career, and he continues to dish out over five assists per game while averaging 21 points. He’s done all of this while reinventing his game to complement LeBron James, whose arrival in South Beach meant Wade would be playing off the ball more often than he ever had before.
But despite Wade’s stellar season, the whispering started almost immediately after a shocking Miami Heat loss to a severely undermanned Chicago Bulls team in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup. Wade struggled mightily to find his rhythm in the second half. His knees aren’t the same. He’s not explosive any more. He’s old. Suddenly, the team that had waltzed through the first round without breaking a sweat was firmly squished up against the wall by a Bulls team exerting so much energy one feared it might combust. Losing another game on their home court was not an option for the Heat.
In Game 2, Dwyane Wade’s “old” knees helped him dish out five assists and score 15 points on 63 percent shooting from the field. He was in sync with James all night, cutting to the hoop and receiving crisp passes that ended in a variety of twisting layups and vintage Wade dunks, his arms elevated straight up before gravity brought the ball crashing down through the hoop. When the horn sounded, the final score was so lopsided that the scoreboard seemed to tilt in the direction of the home team. 115-78. The largest margin of victory in Heat playoff history came in a game where making a statement was not just a priority, but a necessity.
“You can’t just show up and play the game because you’re talented,” Wade said. And you can’t let whispers of your demise affect your game, because those whispers are usually greatly exaggerated. Wednesday’s game was nothing special. Wade’s been doing this for years.