Listen to Dwyane Wade talk these days and it sounds like catharsis, like a man exhaling. He has survived his personal and professional tumult and come out smiling. Life is good, and Tuesday brought just one more reason to think so.
He had minor surgery on his troublesome left knee the day before.
“Started my rehab today,” Wade told us Tuesday. “I’m up and walking. Got rid of the crutches today.”
Obstacles shed. Moving forward.
Wade had done the national look-back-and-review chats earlier this week, the Sunday Conversation on ESPN and the two-part series with Oprah, who could coax tears from a potted plant. It felt like a sit-down with Dr. Phil would have fit pretty nicely, considering all that has happened in Wade’s life the past seven weeks.
He agreed with a chuckle.
“Been a whirlwind,” he said. “I had to put on many different hats, deal with many different things. But at the end of the day, I think I’ve responded. It hasn’t been easy. I feel like it wouldn’t have happened if I couldn’t deal with it. We all deal with our issues. Basketball has always been my outlet, but when I have frustration on the basketball court, that was a different issue to deal with and overcome.”
Good and bad
His minor surgery and recovery means the sweet, lingering echo of an NBA championship won only 20 days ago is countered by an opportunity lost. The U.S. Olympic basketball team, including Heat teammate LeBron James, is practicing without him for the upcoming London Games, denying Wade a third consecutive Olympics.
“I wish I was there for my last hurrah,” he said.
That would be his last Olympic hurrah, to make it clear. He is counting on plenty more Heat hurrahs — even though that was cast in some doubt less than two months ago. It’s amazing how the vindicating tonic of a title combined with a knee free of pain can throw open the window that lets only sunshine and fresh air in to caress an athlete’s outlook.
The disappointment of not being in London this month is overrun by good stuff. His two boys are safe at home. He is getting healthy again. And, as a bonus, his Heat just signed veteran guard Ray Allen (“I’m so excited. Best shooter in our game”) and Tuesday added Rashard Lewis (“He’s, like, 6-11 and he spreads the floor. We need guys to do that”).
The rest of the NBA moves to close the gap on the champion Heat — the Lakers sign Steve Nash, the Brooklyn Nets angle in on Dwight Howard — but Miami moves to improve, too, adding pieces, growing depth.
And Wade, in many ways the key to the Heat growing its 2012 title into a mini-dynasty, is eager to prove he remains an elite player, something that exploded suddenly into doubt as recently as mid-May.
“I’m only 30!” he said. “Michael Jordan, Kobe [Bryant] — those guys got better at 30. Won multiple championships after that. So I’m just getting started.”
The Miami playoff run that ended in a parade proved a hard, trying road for Wade. For the athlete, and also for the man, the father.
We only know now what he really went through.
May 17: Wade is held to an embarrassing five points in a playoff loss at Indiana that gives the Pacers a 2-1 series lead. “Big trouble,” screams The Miami Herald headline. It was the game in which a frustrated — and injured — Wade shouted at coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline for all the world to see.