Dwyane Wade hopes to make his preseason debut Thursday when the Heat plays the Los Angeles Clippers at Beijing’s MasterCard Center.
Wade practiced Tuesday in Beijing and said his knee has responded well to a gradual return from offseason surgery. The Heat will practice Wednesday before a decision is made on whether Wade will play Thursday or in the Saturday night/Sunday morning game versus the Clippers.
On Tuesday, all signs pointed to him being medically cleared for Thursday.
Wade bounced around with his teammates after practice, participating in a player-organized shooting contest geared toward building team chemistry. During practice, he ran with the team during offensive drills.
“If it continues to respond the way it is and my trainers give me a go-ahead to play, I would love to get out there and at least play some minutes and get my conditioning,” Wade said. “That’s the biggest thing: to get my legs back and get my conditioning back. Hopefully, I can start that journey soon.”
Wade has other motives for playing Thursday. On Wednesday, he will hold a news conference in Beijing to introduce his new shoes and his new endorsement contract with Li-Ning.
Wade wore his new Li-Nings during Tuesday’s practice. The sleek black shoes represent the next step for Wade in his career as a pitchman. Wade first represented Converse before signing a three-year deal with Jordan Brand. That contract ended in September.
“I think it’s a new era for myself and the brand and it’s going to be something good, so I look forward to it,” Wade said.
Wednesday will also be a busy day for LeBron James, who has endorsement appearances throughout China during the Heat’s weeklong visit. Now a veteran of trips to Asia, James shunned sleep for his first 24 hours on this trip in order to help him adjust to the time change.
The Heat worked primarily on its offense Tuesday, with coach Erik Spoelstra using the morning session to stretch out his players’ legs after the 14-hour flight from Atlanta. The team practiced for 80 minutes before traveling to nearby Summer Palace for a team photo.
“We wanted to get them out of bed and get them up and running and get the sweat going and the conditioning in,” Spoelstra said. “But at the same time we didn’t just want to come in here and run laps. We wanted to do some thinking, so we worked on our execution. We worked on the details of our offense and moving the ball — those habits that will ring true the entire year.”
Shane Battier was one of the more tired players at practice. The veteran forward hosted a “suit party” for his teammates, coaches, and Heat staff members after arriving in Beijing on Monday night.
“It was a late night,” Battier said. “I have the tailor connection here, so I brought my tailor to the hotel room and we had a suit party at about 1 o’clock [Tuesday morning]. Everyone was picking out suits and shirts and people were ‘Skyping’ their wives to make sure they were picking out the right color, so it was pretty good fun.”
Battier has more experience in China than most NBA players. He has been sponsored by Peak Sporting Goods for seven years and visits the country every summer for an endorsement tour.
“After so many years in China, I have some connections,” Battier said. “In America, I can’t hook anyone up. No one cares. But in China, I know people.”
The Heat’s massive traveling party split into two after the team visited the Summer Palace, a national landmark. The veterans dispersed while the younger players and other guests of the team traveled north to visit the Great Wall. Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley were among those who visited the Wall.
“It’s awesome,” Battier said. “If you’re in China and you’re close you should see it.”