Heat guard Dwyane Wade turned 37 on Thursday and while he couldn’t have predicted the three NBA championships in his Hall of Fame career, there’s one thing he did see coming.
“It’s crazy,” he said Thursday, “but when I was in high school [in Oak Lawn, Illinois], it’s in the yearbook, I said in 20 years I see myself retiring to spend time with my wife and kids and being one of the greatest to play the game.”
He was right on both. Wade is planning to retire at the end of the season.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if it’s simply untenable to have a roster with 12 rotation-worthy players (or 13, when Goran Dragic returns next month from knee surgery).
“It’s good to have these kinds of challenges,” Spoelstra responded.
Waiters complained about playing time Tuesday, drawing a team fine and a rebuke from Spoelstra, who said his comments were not acceptable.
Wayne Ellington hasn’t complained about playing time, but his agent and Heat management have spoken and the message was conveyed that Ellington would like to play.
“It’s new for us, and there will be a little bit of an adjustment period,” Spoelstra said of having so many available options. “Wayne’s been an absolute pro. He gets himself ready, and you saw it the other night. It’s not a desirable situation to be in, but when he came in, he played well, and it’s the only thing he can control.
“His teammates and everybody has to prepare the same way. This is about the team surrendering to the team and winning and ultimately getting to a different place than we are right now. As we start getting more healthy, we want to get to a different level.”
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 7.
▪ Though this roster is unusual in that it has a lot of players of comparable ability, Wade said this is hardly the first time he has been on a team where rotation-worthy players didn’t get the playing time they might have warranted in other circumstances.
“I’ve been on team like that, if you go back to the Big Three and the little 12,” he said, joking. “They all felt the same way, just at a different level of what we were trying to accomplish. But everybody wanted to be on that court and it wasn’t all roses. Those guys wanted to be out there too but they understood the bigger picture and sacrificed — James Jones, Mike Miller, Udonis [Haslem], Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Shane Battier. Everybody sacrificed something.”
Wade, who spoke to Waiters for an hour about his comments about playing time, said: “You understand you play team basketball. It’s not an individual sport.
“You want to be individually great by yourself — go pick up another sport. I’ve always been a firm believer that team success comes before individual success. And with team success, you can have great individual success. That’s the message.”
▪ Tyler Johnson missed practice with an undisclosed illness and is questionable for Friday’s game.
▪ Spoelstra, on Tuesday’s 124-86 loss to Milwaukee, the most lopsided loss of the season:” I did not like our offense last game, and I don’t think our guys did either. We were not working offense together to get to our strengths that we have been for the last month or so, and we paid the price for it. Our turnovers were up, our quick shots, lack of detail, those things all were costly.”