Unlike his magical Finals in 2006, Dwyane Wade was not asked to lift his teammates on his shoulders, pour in 30 to 40 points a night and carry the Heat to a title.
This time, Wade offered ample support to Finals MVP LeBron James. But this, he said, brought a greater sense of satisfaction.
Im going to enjoy this one a lot more than I enjoyed 2006, he said.
I played a different role. I had to, added Wade, who averaged 22.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.2 blocks and shot 43.5 percent in the Finals. Last season, I felt it was too much questions in our mind, guys looking at each other and not wanting to step on each others toes.
This year, I know Im playing with the best player in the world, and that doesnt take anything away from me at all. Ive played with a guy who is a Hall of Famer, so I know how to be first, and I know how to be second and whatever else. It was hard for me to do it, and no one will understand, but it was easy for me to do it for this team.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said Wades leadership this year was probably the biggest difference from 2006. To have the maturity and the perspective to accept a little bit of a different role than he was used to. He had to step aside to an MVP player, and yet he could still impact the game in winning ways as well as anybody in this league [and] lead us with his voice, on defense, still be the heartbeat of this team, still be the great talent that he was in 2006, but to drive us in a different way.
Wade admitted that when he, James and Chris Bosh joined forces, we all expected it to be a little easier than it was. And as much as it hurt last year, we had to go through that pain and suffering. Ive been through a lot. That 15-win season professionally hurt. Laughingstock of the league coming off a championship. But what I dealt with personally was indescribable in a sense including a divorce and contentious child custody battle.
Wade and Heat president Pat Riley shared a moment.
Coach Riley, we did it again, Wade said.
So special, being here nine years, been to the Finals three times.
Im glad we can continue to add to his unbelievable legacy.
THIS AND THAT
• President Barack Obama called Spoelstra on Friday from aboard Air Force One, en route to Tampa, and congratulated him on the Heats win, mentioned that the Heat seemed to get stronger as the playoffs wore on and said he looks forward to celebrating their championship at the White House.
• Bosh said: I know a bunch of people made fun of me and said I was soft, but you cant be soft playing this game, especially at [center]. Spoelstra said Boshs willingness to play center really took our team to another level.
• Oklahoma Citys Kevin Durant: I didnt want to admit it during the series, but now that its over, those guys are really good. Their defense is really good.
• Game 5 produced a 40.3 rating on WPLG-ABC 10, equal to 40.3 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets. Thats the highest Heat rating ever and on par with NBC-6s 40.6 rating for this years Super Bowl. ABCs 11.8 major-market rating for the series was up 5 percent over last years Heat-Mavericks Finals.
• The Heats 14 threes in Game 5 (26 attempts) tied the single-game mark, achieved in 1995 by both Houston and Orlando. The Heats 42 threes were the most ever in a five-game Finals. Spoelstra already has tied Riley for the most playoff coaching wins in Heat history. Riley coached the Lakers to four titles and the Heat to one.
• The Heat became the first team to win an NBA title after trailing in three playoff series. Miamis 121 points in Game 5 were its most ever in a playoff game and the most in a Finals game since Boston scored 131 to clinch the 2008 Finals. Eddy Curry, who hopes the Heat re-signs him, earned his first ring but remains second among active players (behind Chris Wilcox) for most regular-season appearances (525) without playing in a playoff game.
• Online betting site Bovada lists the Heat as an 11-to-4 favorite to win the 2013 NBA title, followed by Oklahoma City (5-1), Chicago (6-1) and the Lakers and Spurs (10-1).