Dwyane Wade sounded like he had just gulped down a cup full of battery acid.
His raspy, sickly voice after Friday’s victory and the redness of his eyes were symptoms of the virus that has been running through the Heat’s locker room the past few weeks. Wade scored a season-high 29 points against the Utah Jazz, but afterward he looked and sounded like someone who might need a few days off to recover. Instead, the Heat (11-12) plays the Bulls (14-8) on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena before heading back out on the road.
“We just played the game I knew we could play, and it was just a better game for me than the last outing,” said Wade, who also was symptomatic on Wednesday when he scored 10 points against the Denver Nuggets. “You don’t want to be sick at all, but I do know when you have injuries or certain things it makes you focus a little bit better. But I want to get over this soon.”
Wade’s concern for his health raises valid points that are, well, commonplace in the regular world everyone else lives in but apparently do not apply to NBA players. The scoring mark and the victory aside, why didn’t Wade just take Friday’s game off?
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He was shivering through postgame interviews inside the visitors’ locker room at EnergySolutions Arena as if he had a fever, and according to his coach the only thing Wade had eaten in the 24 hours leading up to the game was “half a bowl of chicken noodle soup.”
Clearly, those are unsafe working conditions for both Wade and everybody else. Wade, the seventh player on the Heat to be sick in the past few weeks, didn’t attend the shootaround on Friday morning because he didn’t want to get anyone sick. So wouldn’t the responsible thing have been for him to sit out the game as well?
“There’s only so much you can do,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “All teams go through it at some point. Hopefully, we survived it, and hopefully we built up our immune system for the next time. You’re going to get sick. The same thing happens in school and in business.”
Only it doesn’t. Workers take sick days. Students stay home from school. Sick basketball players, on the other hand, constantly pass the same ball around and never stop giving each other high-fives. And if that wasn’t enough to get everyone on the court sick, the players never stop licking their hands.
“It’s like daycare,” Wade said. “It’s like a big daycare. That’s what the NBA is — a big daycare.”
Here’s a common sequence of events that happens time after time every basketball game:
1. A player gets fouled and goes to the free-throw line.
2. He licks his hands.
3. The official tosses the player the ball.
4. The player shoots the ball, and regardless of whether he makes the foul shot or not his teammates all give him a high-five.
“Even if someone is sick you’re going to still shake their hands and hug them,” Luol Deng said. “It’s like having someone sick at home. I’ve never really avoided someone I know well just trying not to get sick. If someone around you is going to get sick, most likely you’re going to get it.”
The free-throw scenario is just one example of how germs are spread during basketball games. All contact sports present inherent risks of infections, but basketball might be the most contagious of them all.
The NBA is a flu and cold factory this time of year, and there’s apparently nothing that can be done.
“It’s impossible when you play on a team, and guys forget all about it once the game starts,” Wade said. “You forget that the guy is sick. When you first come in the locker room, everybody stays away from you, but when you get into competing and everything goes right, you’re all in.
“So I got it from somebody on this team. They passed it around, so it will get out of me fast and go to someone else.”
▪ Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside were assigned to the Heat’s D-League affiliate after the team’s 2-3 road trip. Napier had been receiving significant minutes up until last week. He only played three minutes against the Suns on Tuesday, 13 minutes against the Nuggets on Wednesday and less than 10 minutes on Friday against the Jazz. He heads to Sioux Falls (South Dakota) averaging 5.7 points in about 22 minutes per game. Whiteside has appeared in three games for Miami since being added in place of Shannon Brown.
Sunday: Bulls at Heat
When/where: 6 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM; WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Bulls lead 53-43.
Noteworthy: It’s the first game this season between the teams. … Chicago has won five of its past seven games. Led by Derrick Rose, the Bulls scored an impressive victory on Friday night against the Trail Blazers. Rose had 31 points, going 14 of 24 from the field. … Heat forward Chris Andersen has been upgraded to questionable for Sunday’s game. He hasn’t played since spraining his ankle against the Hornets on Nov.23. Josh McRoberts (knee) is also questionable. … The Heat will have just 12 players on Sunday after rookies Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside were sent to the team’s D-League affiliate. … Joakim Noah (ankle) and Taj Gibson (ankle) are questionable for the Bulls. Doug McDermott (knee) is out.