Dwyane Wade is looking thinner than he has in years, but his offseason transformation isn’t complete.
When Wade returns from the Bahamas on Friday, trainer Tim Grover will be waiting — maybe at the airport — and the two longtime friends will finish the work they started in July.
That’s when Wade set about reinventing his body for what will be one of the most important seasons of his career.
In addition to gunning for his fourth title and third in a row, Wade also will be playing for leverage in any contract discussions planned for after the season. Like LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Wade can opt out of his contract after the playoffs and re-sign for more money.
“We had to push my body to certain limits this summer,” Wade said.
Wade and Grover outlined an eight-week program designed to strengthen Wade’s body for contact while also reducing body weight to take pressure off of his knees.
It all sounds a bit counterintuitive, but Wade said he feels better now than he has in several years.
In effect, Wade wants to look and feel like he did in 2008-09, when he had career highs in regular-season games (79) and points per game (30.2).
In addition to training camp, Wade said Wednesday that he would meet with Grover for 1 1/2 more weeks to complete his training. The work will take place at odd hours and will not interfere with camp.
“Back when I was younger, it was a lot easier then,” Wade said. “Now, it gets harder when you’re 10 and 11 years in and you’ve had success. So, now [Grover] pushes me even more.”
Wade rarely entertains discussions about his health, but Wednesday opened up about his ongoing knee problems. He said that many of the knee injuries throughout his career stem from his first procedure while at Marquette.
According to Wade, he had the meniscus removed from his left knee.
“It was 14 years ago, or whatever the case maybe, so it was totally different,” Wade said. “And I don’t think anyone would project I would still be playing this long either. When [Russell] Westbrook had his injury, they kind of saved his meniscus. Mine was taken out when I was young.”
In March 2002, Marquette announced Wade had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a small tear in his lateral meniscus. The partial removal of a damaged meniscus can cause arthritis later in life, but can also speed up initial recovery time for athletes.
“At that time it was about just get me back on the basketball court … and for the long haul that kind of hurt me to the extent to where I would have certain knee problems,” Wade said. “It’s something I’ve had to deal with, but everyone has their own journey in life. It’s a part of it.”
Westbrook, who was knocked out of the 2013 playoffs with a right knee injury, recently had his second surgery in five months to repair a torn lateral meniscus. The Thunder’s guard is expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the season.
Considering the recent troubles Westbrook has experienced, Wade said he feels fortunate that he was able to play through the pain of bone bruises to his knee last season. Wade was limited throughout much of the playoffs but delivered key performances in the Finals.
“It’s guys that last season weren’t able to play the game of basketball that they love because of season-ending injuries and even though I had an injury, I was able to play and help my team win,” Wade said. “Even though mentally it sucks and physically it sucks, you just look at it and say I’m still able to get out here and play. That’s a positive that you’ve got to look at.”
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