How many times can Dwayne Wade fall down and still get up? Pat Riley isn’t willing to find out, apparently.
Word was stirring late last week that Riley, the Heat head coach and president, was trying to shut Wade down. In the midst of this nightmare of a season, Riley wasn’t willing to risk any more injury to his young star. Today, it became officials -the Heat announced that Wade is done for the season.
The league’s fifth leading scorer has been nursing a sore right knee all season – possibly a residual of the surgery Wade had on his left knee and left shoulder last May. He missed 31 games last season and, with today’s news will have missed the same number of games this season. Not long ago, Wade was showcased in a famous Converse ad touting his toughness. Watch it here:
No one doubts Wade’s guts, certainly not me. But I’ve long wondered – as I watched Wade fall down so many times – just how long he’d get up. Or how long he’d last.
Two years ago, he was one-third of the three amigos that was rescuing the NBA from its seemingly interminable malaise. Along with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, they were the bright stars that were supposed to make us stop missing Michael Jordan and lure a new wave of fans to the game. Wade did his part, leading the Heat to the 2006 NBA title, and – as a tither and a young, married father – he was the kind of young man fans wanted their sons to be.
But the left knee and shoulder injury clearly affected him. And while he was as affective and aggressive this season as he’d, the season’s toll (on and off the court) was obvious – on his body, mind and heart. Last fall, the blogosphere was abuzz with rumors that Wade and his wife, Siohvaughn, might divorce. They have not.
For all of those reasons, shutting down is the right thing for Wade’s long-term viability. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.
It’s also the right thing for the Heat, who are still hoping Wade will be their cornerstone into the next decade.
And Lord knows it’s the right thing for the league to allow him to sit, no matter whether or not Wade has a specific ,traumatic injury that prevents him from playing. (He played 39 minutes last Saturday against Atlanta.)
Later this week, Wade is slate to undergo a new, noninvasive treatment called OssaTron, a high-tech form of shock therapy. Today, Wade said, ‘The knee will be hit by shock waves, electrical shock waves. It’s actually a pretty painful experience.”
Afterward, Wade will limited to passive exercise for a month. before being able to return to basketball.
But here’s where it gets dicey: Wade says he still was to be part of the summer Olympic basketball team, which is shaping up as the for USA squad that just might be truly capable of winning a gold medal. Like Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who’s out for the season with a foot injury but might be pressured into anchoring the Chinese national team’s home-turf quest for gold, Wade wants to represent his country on what looks to be the best USA squad in years.
Being somewhat of a Dream Team snob (I covered the original DT and had loathed anyone using the moniker to describe any of the pretenders that were cobbled together for the last several Olympics), I am actually cooling with calling USA Basketball’s new entry Dream Team II (For Real). Their displays during qualifying rounds show a lethal combination of talent and savvy regarding the international style of play.
They will win the gold medal in Beijing in August.
But Dwyane Wade should not be there. He should dispel any thoughts of joining LeBron, Carmelo, Dwight Howard and America’s other young guns as they seek to restore order to the basketball world – no matter how difficult it might be.
Sitting out now is the right thing to do. Sitting out Beijing is the smart thing to do. After all, no one knows just how many falls D-Wade’s body has left.