Dwyane Wade is fragile, but he's also a warrior.
The Miami Heat know this. Their fans know this. Your household pets probably know this. Still, some worry.
They worry about Wade not having played in four consecutive games, about him missing six of the Heat's last eight. They panic about his knees potentially not holding up for another championship run. And they cringe at the notion of any long-term effects that may come with his latest injury.
Turning to the Miami organization for comfort hasn't helped, either. Head coach Erik Spoelstra didn't sound ominous when assessing Wade's present state, but he wasn't exactly teeming with optimism either (via Michael Wallace of ESPN.com):
Wade hasn't played since the March 29 game in New Orleans. The team considers him day to day, but Spoelstra was reluctant to say whether it would be a priority to get Wade back on the court to regain rhythm at some point in the final six games before the April 20 start of the playoffs.
“His body will tell us when we'll play him,” Spoelstra said of Wade. “He got hit right on top of his knee twice. He was able to resolve it, then get past it. But in the New Orleans game, he got beat up in that game and was on the floor.”
When fans, pundits and extra-terrestials alike hear the words "Wade" and "knee" uttered in the same soundbite, a state of emergency in South Beach is liable to be declared. Not that the Miami faithful are an apprehensive bunch, but they are a fastidious cabal. Especially with Wade, who has never gone a full season without missing a game.
But while there seemingly is legitimate cause for concern here, should they be concerned? Should they lose sleep about Wade sitting until the postseason? Should the Heat and their fans start devouring comfort food to offset the pain of the realization that Wade's knee stands to deprive the Heat of a second straight championship?
Only if they're prone to binge-eating for no reason.
I'm not saying that Wade's injury isn't serious. Every abrasion he incurs is potentially debilitating, and that he's on the wrong side of 30 doesn't help.
Yet, this is Wade we're talking about—he's a soldier who would play through the most caustic of pain if need be. Right now, he just doesn't need to. For any of those in doubt of Wow's perseverance, I point you to the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Wade had his knee drained prior to Game 3, and you know what? Miami lost. Bad (via Wallace):
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has consistently downplayed how sore his left knee had been in recent weeks and continued after Sunday's game to say he wouldn't use any injuries as an excuse for his performance. But multiple sources close to Wade and the team told ESPN.com Sunday night that he required the minor draining procedure on Wednesday before the team's loss in Game 3.
After having fluid drained from his troublesome left knee last week, Wade had one of the worst playoff games of his career as Miami stumbled into a 2-1 series hole against the Indiana Pacers.
Wade shot 2-of-13 from the field in that game, the Indiana Pacers trounced the Heat by 19 points and took a 2-1 series lead, and everyone with a pulse (and some kind of aptitude for basketball) depicted the Heat as a team on the brink of implosion.
Upon finding out about Wade's procedure last spring, my first reaction was not to chastise Miami for its supposedly impending elimination. Instead, I thought to myself, "Damn, he played 37 minutes that night."
So what if he had one of the worst postseason performances of his career? In the scheme of things, that didn't matter—he still played. He was a little more Smush Parker than Dwyane Wade, but he still played.
What did he do next? He played again and torched the Pacers in Game 4 for 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
To believe he was at full capacity during that display is beyond ridiculous. Just because not every player misses a few games like Carmelo Anthony after having his knee drained doesn't mean he isn't in pain. He is. Ask Wade himself. Or Kobe Bryant. They'll tell you. And so will many others.
Wade has played through pain and injuries before, and he'll do so again. Anyone worried about Miami navigating the postseason gauntlet without a two-time champion not named Udonis Haslem needn't fret. Wade will be back.
For any who are concerned about Wade's long-term well-being, though, let me first commend you. Your benevolence at a time when the NBA's fanbase is largely of the cutthroat, win-now-or-else persuasion is encouraging. I also implore you not to worry about anything beyond this season.
Sooner or later, the eldest of Miami's Big Three will go down hard. And he may not get back up right away. There will come a time when either his age or bill of health (or both) will best him.
But you can't worry about that. Not only is it inevitable for most players who aren't the Black Mamba, but anguishing over what has yet to happen is counterproductive. It has to be about today, about now.
Languishing over future what-ifs is an arduous and empty task. It's pointless. Worry about the Wade of next season when it's next season. Fixate on LeBron James leaving in 2014, in 2014. Ask Chris Andersen to get your name tattooed on him when he's actually at the tattoo parlor.
Don't be concerned about Wade's knee until it's a problem. Even though he's been forced to watch from the sidelines, it's not an issue right now. Shift your energy to something more constructive, like how the Heat are going to embarrass the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. And find solace in knowing that if Wade needed to play, he would.
Had the Heat still been riding their potentially record-breaking win streak, do you think Wade would be found on the bench, looking dapper? Of course not. He'd be perspiring as much as anyone, fighting for a victory.
"I'm a no-excuse type person," Wade said after Game 4 against the Pacers last season. "When I'm on the basketball court, I'm all about trying to help my team win" (via ESPN.com).
Just like he'll be doing in late April. And May. And perhaps even June.