Dwyane Wade said before the Heat’s game against the Kings that Greg Oden has “gotten down” and “a little frustrated” while waiting to join the team on the court. Oden was in his business attire and inactive for the 26th consecutive game this season Friday.
At the same time, Wade said Oden “has been great” and the Heat’s co-captain said he was proud of Oden’s patience. The Heat’s reserve center, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game in more than four years, went through his normal pregame routine Friday. He worked out on the court before shedding his knee brace and practice attire for a sport coat and a spot on the bench.
Still, Wade’s tone seemed to acknowledge the widely held belief that Oden is still a long way from being cleared to play.
“His attitude has been great,” Wade said. “I’m sure at times he has gotten down and got a little frustrated, but he’s giving himself a chance. He is listening to the guys who know the bodies very well — way more than us athletes.
“He is doing everything they ask him to do, so it’s giving him an opportunity to get back on the court whenever that time comes. He’s not rushing it, so as someone who has been through injuries before, I’m proud of him being patient, and I know he’s frustrated because he wants to get out there and play with us. I know if he keeps doing what he’s doing, his time will come.”
Mario Chalmers is impervious to the frequent tongue-lashings from his teammates, and that’s a good thing. The admonishment isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Wade said the Heat’s players will still be yelling at Chalmers when he’s “60 years old.”
“He’s our little brother,” Wade said. “Still going to be cussing his [butt] out. It just is what it is.
“It’s the role he has, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Rio knows that we all have nothing but love but, more importantly, nothing but respect, for the player that he is, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The latest example came Wednesday night in the Heat’s emotionally charged victory against the Pacers.
LeBron James scolded Chalmers on the court after apparently blowing a defensive assignment, but Chalmers appeared to defend himself moments later in the team huddle. James then jumped out of his seat and charged at Chalmers only to be held back by Udonis Haslem.
“You can’t have that type of relationship with anybody and everybody,” Wade said. “Mario is … he can take it. I would have exploded way more times than him.”
With the Pacers and Trail Blazers the fresh and emerging teams this season, Wade said it has been nice not being the center of attention for a change.
“It has been good for us that you have teams like Portland and Indiana, teams that are coming out with these hot starts,” Wade said. “It’s good for teams like the Heat and Spurs that there are other story lines out there, and we can just continue to work our game and continue to get better and not be the main topic these days.”
Wade also said Indiana’s impressive start to the season has been good for one other thing: fighting off boredom.
“It was good for us that Indiana started off this way,” Wade said. “You can see it in the intensity of both games. Both of them were playoff-type atmosphere games and, obviously, it’s because of the team they are. The West has a lot of that, those type of games. So, it’s good for us.”
James agreed: “You see it and you don’t want to get too behind anyone. This league is difficult because you’re playing so many games and so many different matchups every night, and the motivation … it’s hard to get up every night, but when you have great teams in your conference, it definitely helps.”