Turns out Dwyane Wade made it to the Olympics, after all. In fact, he spent time with Team USA on Tuesday night and planned to be at the North Greenwich Arena for the men’s basketball quarterfinal between the U.S. team and Australia on Wednesday night.
But, much to his dismay, he won’t be in uniform during this road trip.
He’s just here as a tourist (and to promote Gatorade), so he had tickets to sit in the stands with his two young sons, Zaire and Zion, and his nephew, Dahvion. He also has tickets to Thursday’s gold-medal women’s soccer match between the United States and Japan at Wembley Stadium, and he also hopes to attend track and field before he leaves Sunday.
Wade was supposed to play in his third Olympics, but after winning the NBA title with the Heat, he required knee surgery, so he withdrew from the team. He had surgery on the left knee on July 9, and said he is “excited” about how his rehabilitation is going and expects to be fully ready by training camp. He did admit that it has been hard to watch Team USA play without him.
“I’m a competitor, so when I watch the games, I’m like, ‘Oh I could have helped the team there,’ or ‘Oh, I would have done this or that,’ so in that sense, I wish I was there,” he said during an interview Wednesday at The NBA House, an interactive fan exhibit at the Covent Garden market. Wade was there to promote the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and do a clinic with London youths.
“If they make the rule change [making the Olympics an Under-23 tournament, like it is for men’s soccer], this would’ve been my last Olympics. So, yeah, it’s hard not to be out there with the guys. But they’ve got a lot of great guys on that team. Our game’s in great hands when you see the young guys filling in for the guys who couldn’t play.”
Wade said despite the team’s slow starts against Lithuania and Argentina, he has no doubt Team USA will win the gold medal.
“I think they’re growing as a team, and doing a great job whether they’re winning by 83 or three, four, five points,” he said. “They’re finding ways to win and learning about each other.”
Wade pointed out that other teams play their best against the Americans, and that is one reason some games have been close at halftime.
“You have to understand a lot of guys are so excited to play the U.S. team, so they come out and give it their all,” he said. “But the great thing about Team USA is depth, so we wear on them, wear on them, wear on them until they break.”
Wade has several good friends on the team, but he said he is particularly proud of Heat teammate LeBron James, who played key roles in second-half rallies against Lithuania and Argentina.
“LeBron is one of the greatest players in the world,” he said. “He has the ability to help the team win in many different facets. He can turn it on scoring-wise, but can also lead the team in assists, rebounds, whatever needs to be done. I expect him to be even more expressive come medal time.”
As for comparisons with the 1992 Dream Team, Wade said there is “no comparison.”
“The Dream Team from ’92 stands in a class of its own,” he said. “Those guys were unstoppable, unbelievable. It’s unfair to compare. The game of basketball has so many better players now, so it’s harder to win. But those players from 20 years ago could still be dominant today.”
Wade is looking forward to the Heat’s training camp. He said the surgery went even better than he expected.
“I was nervous, because it’s my third knee surgery,” he said. “But once I came out of it, I had no more pain, and I was able to start rehab the very next day.”
He is having fun spending time with his sons and looks forward to sightseeing in London and also watching other Olympic sports.
“I’ve never been to a soccer game, and I want to experience it,” he said. “I’ve been one of those guys from afar who doesn’t know anything about soccer, so I want to go see it and come out with a better appreciation for how great they are as athletes and also how great their sport is. It’s so big around the world.”
Wade has a busy August with a fantasy summer camp and rehab, and on Sept. 4 heads on tour to promote his book, Father First, in which he writes about fatherhood. His sons and nephew were having fun Wednesday while Wade did interviews. The NBA exhibit allows kids to try on jerseys and climb a platform to dunk. Naturally, the three boys put on Wade, James and Chris Bosh jerseys. And judging by their dunks, they clearly have been watching Daddy.