Dwyane Wade feels like he’s going through training camp in February.
After 21 months away, it didn’t take long for Wade to remember the intensity at which the Miami Heat likes to do things on and off the court.
“I’m probably as sore as I’ve been all year,” Wade said. “First of all, the style of play is different. I’m coming from a different system to a system that is way different. So it’s more body movement for each player on the team, which is a little different than where I come from with my role.
“Also, Miami has its way. It has its way of cutting body fat or cutting weight and all these things, the extra work that you got to do to get down to that. I haven’t had to do that since I left. I haven’t gotten on a scale, really. So it’s a little different mentality. It’s good for you, but you got to get there.”
Wade, who spent his first 13 seasons in Miami leading the Heat to three NBA titles, rejoined the team on Feb. 8 after he was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 2024 second-round draft pick.
During the past two weeks, Wade said he’s already had his body fat tested twice.
“It’s a part of what I need on this team, especially as we get down the stretch,” Wade said. “I want to get in better shape to be able to do more things on the floor, and I got to get into the shape of this team. It’s a lot of extra work not only that I’m doing, but I see a lot of the guys that have been here that continue to keep doing it. JJ [James Johnson] continues to keep doing it, a lot of guys. It’s just a part of the culture and no one is above that.”
Wade, who is averaging 7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 4 turnovers in 22.1 minutes during his first three games since returning to the Heat, has been working on developing chemistry on and off the court with his teammates, in particular, the ones he did not play with before going to Chicago in 2016.
“It’s all communication outside of practicing with each other and us going through sets together and things like that,” Wade said. “I try to communicate with them a lot. A lot of times, it’s learning a guy away from the game of basketball that helps even more with trust. On the court, I’ve seen these guys play for a while, so I kind of know their strengths. But it’s getting to know each other personally. It’s talking through stuff defensively, offensively, just communicating together.”
Teammates like guard Wayne Ellington say Wade’s biggest contribution so far is the calming effect on the court while playing with the Heat’s second unit.
“[Wade] slows the game down a lot,” Ellington said. “He can see things before they happen or develop. He makes it easier for us in that second unit as we come in with him. He has a calming factor that he brings with his presence on the floor. That’s what I’ve taken away so far from it is how poised he is. We’ve had a lot of conversations about where he likes the ball, where we can find each other and where we can help each other so like I said, we just continue to grow.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade, who went to Los Angeles to fulfill All-Star Game commitments, has been spending a lot of time at the Heat’s facility since returning as he prepares for the team’s crucial final stretch of 24 games.
“He’s been working on his conditioning, working on his body,” Spoelstra said. “We play a different style, not better or worse, but we play with a lot of speed and quickness and he’s adapting to that. And he’s also very aware and mindful that he’s stepping into a new team late in the season and been around enough good teams to know that chemistry matters. And I love his approach right now. He’s come in and been willing to help and serve and continue to get to know the guys and let them know he’s not here to disrupt anything, but more to help.”