Winning back-to-back championships usually elicits one of those "not broke, don't fix it" sentiments. When you're as good as the Miami Heat, though, winning championships doesn't mean all's as it should be.
A bone bruise in his right knee, tendinitis and a handful of other nagging bumps and bruises followed Dwyane Wade into the 2013 playoffs, threatening to derail Miami's attempt to win its second-straight title. If he has anything to say about it this summer, next time will be different. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman, Wade is now turning to the same OssaTron therapy he used to ease his aching knees five years ago.
"I had to take a month off after I did my treatment and this weekend will be a month to the day," [Wade] said during an event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. "It's the kind of treatment for tendinitis, certain areas in your knee."
Wade will also spend the time between now and training camp trying to get in the kind of shape he was in when he came into the league, ostensibly hoping to reduce some of the wear and tear on his joints. To that end, he's again working with Tim Grover, trainer extraordinaire who's also helped the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Grover had worked with Wade earlier in his career and came to his rescue after Game 2 of the 2012 Finals in the star's last-ditch attempt to remain on the floor and somewhat effective. In his book The Cleaner You Are, The Dirtier You Get, Grover expressed admiration for Wade's willingness to seek help (via The Palm Beach Post's Ethan J. Skolnick):
A different player might not have made that call. He could have relied on LeBron to carry the Heat to the title, he could have tried coping with the pain, hoping his knee would give him a couple more games. That’s what most players would have done. But when a championship is on the line and you’re a Cleaner, you don’t let others carry the load, and you don’t just hope it all works out. You make every possible move to put yourself where you need to be.
Another title isn't on the line just yet, but Wade's already putting himself where he needs to be in anticipation of a season that could vault Miami into the NBA's rare ranks of three-peaters. His injury history is one he's not eager to repeat.
Things Falling Apart—2007
With everything that happened to Dwyane Wade in 2007, it's hard to believe things haven't gone even worse for him in the time since. Fresh off Miami's Finals success against the Dallas Mavericks, Wade dislocated his left shoulder in February, missing the entire month of March and some. Despite having also incurred a torn labrum, Wade opted to pursue rehabilitation rather than season-ending surgery.
At the time, Wade sought solace from a guy who'd confronted a similar scenario (via CBS SportsLine.com):
Wade said he has received encouragement from teammate Eddie Jones, who missed 15 games with a dislocated left shoulder and torn labrum in March 2001. Jones returned late in the regular season and played in three playoff games.
Jones talked to Wade last week about what to expect during the rehab process.
"You're going to get a workout, a big-time workout," Jones said. "There's going to be days when you don't want to do it. But you've got to stay on top of it. ... I think he can get through it. He's a tough guy."
Tough indeed. At the time, Wade said, "It could have been easy for me just to shut it down"—per the Associated Press—and intimated he wasn't entirely certain how effective he'd be after returning. Pat Riley later revealed the injury was so extreme that it caused nerve damage.
Wade eventually made it back in time for the postseason, getting in five games of regular-season action before being dispatched in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. But when he returned to the floor, Wade also experienced pain in his left knee upon landing after a dunk. That tendinitis has become a theme with which Miami fans are all too familiar by now. Desperate for some kind of quick fix before the playoffs, Wade went the route of ancient wisdom...and needles.
Of his acupuncture therapy, Wade had this to say (per the Associated Press):
"You just try to find a way to feel a little better," Wade said Monday before the Heat hosted the Boston Celtics. "Find a way. We get the best of help from all the best doctors around the world, so you try to find someone to help you. Right now I'm doing that and I feel a little better."
Once the playoffs came to a quick end, Wade had same-day surgeries on his shoulder and knee, hoping to nip the problem in the bud in time to recover before the 2007-08 season. By July, Wade's range of motion in that shoulder had improved significantly, but he admitted he wanted to take things slowly in hopes next season went more smoothly.
As it became clear just how severe Wade's shoulder injury had been in 2007, some wondered why Wade bothered coming back soon as he had. Eventually, he was shut down for the remaining 21 games of 2008 on account of pain in the same left knee that underwent surgery the previous summer.
With Wade set to receive shock-wave treatment in pursuit of lasting relief, Riley explained that the time had finally come for his star to take it easy (per the Associated Press)
There's no doubt it's a function of the record. My God, it didn't take a news bulletin for that. Yes, we aren't going to make the playoffs. It's a lost season. We know that. We don't want it to be a lost career. That's how I look at it.
Just two seasons removed from a championship, the Heat plummeted to a 15-67 record—and the second-overall pick in the draft. For all its trouble, the organization wound up with Michael Beasley.
Along with years of wondering how Russell Westbrook (selected third) or Kevin Love (taken fourth) would have looked in a Miami uniform.
From Locked Out to Knocked Out—2012
Fresh off the 2011 NBA lockout, Wade's health appeared an ominous warning in advance of Miami's attempt to improve upon its 2011 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. By the end of January, he'd missed nine of the Heat's 21 games.
In addition to a strained calf and a bruised left foot that kept him out of three games, Wade suffered a sprained right ankle that put the cherry on top of his early struggles (via ESPN's Michael Wallace):
Wade told reporters in Denver that he had never experienced pain from a sprain as severely as what he felt Friday. He also made light of his recent rash of injuries being a sign that he's getting older. Wade turns 30 on Tuesday.
However many times Wade's been around the sun, discerning his age in NBA years is a little like trying to figure out how old Miguel Tejada was back in the day. It's ultimately a guessing game where birth certificates mean absolutely nothing.
Fast-forward to the postseason, and a familiar problem began haunting Wade's attempts to earn teammate LeBron James his first title.
Two games into Miami's second-round series against the Indiana Pacers in 2012, Wade had to have his left knee drained to relieve soreness that began plaguing him in the postseason. He went on to struggle initially, making just 2-of-13 field-goal attempts in Game 3 and turning the ball over five times. From there, however, Wade exploded for totals of 30, 28 and 41 points in the series' final three games—all Miami victories.
Shortly after upending the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals, Wade went on to have knee surgery in July that didn't raise any red flags. In turn, he was unable to join Team USA for the London Summer Olympics but recovered in plenty of time to begin the 2012-13 season in fine working order.
Dwyane Wade entered the summer vetoing the possibility of another surgery, but his regimen of treatment and training looks to be robust as ever. A sign the 31-year-old is finally acting his age?
Not according to Wade. He's hobbling into the 2013-14 season as defiant as ever (per South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman): "I'm not done yet. I still got more in the tank. Like I said, my focus is just to make sure physically I can do the things I need to do. My skills haven't diminished by no stretch of the imagination."
Between his cutting-edge treatments and working with Grover, Wade may indeed have the last laugh. Pat Riley was already sold in June, telling Dan Le Batard (via ESPN's Brian Windhorst), "He’s going to get down to 212 pounds next year and he’s going to come back and reinvent himself and everyone is going to say 'Wow.'"
All that talk means Wade will have plenty of walking to do. If he can stay on his feet, anyway.