Determined to show his critics he’s still at the top of his game and feeling stronger physically after electric shock treatment to his knees, Heat guard Dwyane Wade was the portrait of optimism on several fronts Friday:
He said he has no reason to believe that any of the Big Three will sign elsewhere after next season, when he, LeBron James and Chris Bosh can exercise opt-out clauses.
He said he has no intention of abandoning the attacking style that has been a hallmark of his game, an element that became far more difficult as he dealt with knee pain during this past season’s playoffs.
He said he does not believe the knees – which were problematic the past two postseasons – will be a lingering issue for the remainder of his career. And he feels no need to curtail his minutes with the hope that will keep him healthy for May and June.
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“I don’t worry about it because I’ve dealt with so many different injuries since I was young and I’ve always bounced back and found a way to be the player you guys have seen,” he said Friday morning at the Westin Diplomat before overseeing his fantasy basketball camp. “I’ve seen it work with my body before. I’m confident it will. My skills haven’t diminished. I’m not done yet.”
Wade, 31, said he will not be “ready for opening night when training camp starts. But I’ll be ready for opening night when opening night gets here [Oct. 29 against Chicago]. I’m not on a clock.”
He had his first basketball workout of the offseason on Thursday, under the direction of noted trainer Tim Grover.
Wade said this upcoming season, when the Heat will attempt to three-peat, “is going to be tough because we’re walking into unchartered water. Trying to muster up the motivation to try to win another championship. We understand the competition will be high. It will be very intense.”
And Wade wants the focus to remain squarely on the season, not the free agent frenzy that will follow. Wade and Bosh already have said they want to stay in Miami long-term, and James has said how much he enjoys it here but has stopped short of making a firm commitment.
Asked Friday about his gut feeling about whether all three will remain with the Heat beyond next season, Wade said: “I have no reason to believe anything else. We all love it here. We’re all committed to compete for many, many years to come. Obviously, the business side will take over at one point.”
Of the criticism that he endured during the playoffs – when he played below his standards before coming through at key moments against the Pacers and Spurs – Wade said he would remember “all of it. Whether it was reading down your Twitter timeline, reading Instagram. I’m always motivated by what people say I can’t do or won’t do. Anytime any individual doubts you, you want to prove them wrong. When I’m healthy, I can do the things I want to do.”
Wade said people still have “misconceptions what I went through” during what he called a “frustrating” playoff run. His ordeal included “a lot of tendinitis and getting hit and bone bruises in the wrong places at the wrong time. And those things take a long time to heal. I didn’t go through any structural damage.”
Even bending to put on shorts required an adjustment, and he said “X-rays can’t tell how much pain you’re in. Only you know.”
Asked if he might be receptive to playing fewer minutes or sitting out the second night of back-to-back games to help preserve his knees, Wade said: “I’m not getting into what people say I should do. I want to be on the court.
“[But] I’m not stubborn or close-minded. I will always listen and talk to Pat Riley and coach [Erik Spoelstra] about how I’m feeling. But I want to be on the floor.”
Wade said he would not change his style to try to reduce the risk of injury. Of attacking the basket, he said: “I am going to do that,” then said it again to emphasize the point.
But he also said: “Every year something changes in the way I have to play with this team and [I’m] prepared for whatever coach asks me to do. It could be more, hopefully not less, than previous years.”
He said he will continue to shoot midrange shots “until I stop playing the game,” and wants to continue to post up more often.
During the Finals, the Spurs did not double team him a lot and even attempted to have center Tiago Splitter defend him briefly before coach Gregg Popovich thought better of it.
Wade said that did not offend him: “I welcome it,” and that he feels “capable of beating most guys one on one, especially when they put their bigs on us.”
Wade said the Heat’s competition “on paper” is the most formidable since the Big Three came together “but you never know until you get into the season. The East obviously has gotten stronger. Brooklyn did something unprecedented to put five All-Star players on the floor at one time.
“Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett... bring something the [Nets] were missing in the sense of winning and toughness. You see a lot of teams in the league just trying to get better. Right now, we’re the standard. We’ve won two in a row. Teams are putting teams together to try to stop that. It was a great summer for the NBA.”