Wade's Early End Year Too Late

So, the Miami Heat decided to shut down Dwyane Wade. 'Bout a year too late, don't ya think?

It never really should've come to this. Wade should've never been in this position. And no matter what anyone says, the Heat's miserable season is a direct result of Miami not pushing Wade to have season-ending surgery after suffering a dislocated left shoulder in February of last year.

Remember when Wade chose rest over surgery after a collision with Houston's Shane Battier sent his arm popping backward and had Wade carted off, crying, in a wheelchair? That image is hard to forget, especially since Wade - and the Heat - hasn't been the same since.

Don't worry, Dwyane. Pat told me that if you come back, we'll repeat as NBA champs - and he'll get you a lot of help next season. (Photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images)

Granted, Wade still averaged 24.6 points, fifth-best in the NBA, and was voted an all-starter. But anyone who watched him play this season knows that he wasn't right. Where he once glided through the court with ease, he labored for everything he got. He didn't have much help, with Shaquille O'Neal hurting and fossilizing and a remaining roster filled with players with questionable NBA credentials.

Wade led the league in turnovers (4.4 per game) and had that sucking-on-lemons, sour face all season.

Wade's shoulder wasn't the problem this season; his left knee has held him back more than anything. Wade had procedures on his knee and shoulder last summer, after the Heat's season ended. Had he gotten both surgeries this time last year, the Heat wouldn't be here right now.

He came back earlier than expected last November, realizing that the Heat wouldn't make the playoffs without him. Now it has been proven that it can't make it with him playing at 75, 80 percent. The Heat was 11-41 with the wobbly Wade in the lineup. With nothing to play for, Wade decided that he shouldn't play hurt anymore.

The day after the O'Neal trade, I asked Wade in Philadelphia if he thinks he should've had season-ending surgery last season, knowing how it all turned out.

"I don't know, man. I made a decision that I thought was best for me at that time," Wade said then. "Everything happens for a reason. I didn't have surgery at that time for a reason."

Wade didn't want to have surgery then because he wanted to help the Heat to defend its NBA championship. It's admirable that Wade played through pain, made sacrifices for the team, blah, blah, blah . . . for another title run. But looking back, it cost the Heat two seasons - they got swept in the first round by Chicago, and they now are poised to have the worst record in franchise history.

It also cost Miami O'Neal - although getting Shawn Marion is exchange is not so shabby - and put the team on the difficult path to rebuilding.

I-I-I ke-ep on fallin'. . . I can't do no more. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Riley began to distance himself from his terrible team announcing that he planned on attending college games to scout players that Miami might select with its sure-bet high lottery pick. Last week, Wade said he hadn't thought about shutting it down. But he changed his mind with his team smelling like a hot garbage soufflé and his coach already watching the likes of Indiana freshman Eric Gordon in person.

You have to wonder what a season like this can do to his legacy, less than two years after being the NBA Finals MVP. You can blame his injuries, the injuries to O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, the O'Neal trade, and Riley's offseason blunders in assembling this team (He signed Smush Parker and Penny Hardaway - really? - and neither player is on the roster anymore. He also traded Antoine Walker - not too bad - for Mark Blount and Ricky Davis. At least he has Davis's expiring contract).

But for Wade to be on the court for a team that lost 26 of 27? In the East?

I don't want to pile on Wade, because most of the blame, in my opinion, falls on Riley. He put the pressure on Wade to carry a poorly constructed mix of not-ready-for-primetime players and ready-for-retirement-home players. On a bum wheel, at that.

Still, Wade will have to come back strong, real strong, next season. At least now, he can get some rest - something that should've happened last year.

"If I had a crystal ball and I knew we were going to get swept by Chicago, yeah, we would've done it," Riley said last month. "But that's not what a warrior does. That's not what a champion does. A champion tries to compete. We didn't repeat and it took him a while to heal."

Unless Miami can get Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose this June, it may take the Heat even longer.

By Michael Lee |  March 10, 2008; 7:39 PM ET
Previous: Butler feels and looks good in return to practice | Next: Tuesday update


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Well he is getting paid to play, so if he's healthy he should be out there. I am sure he felt pressure himself to play considering half his income comes from endorsement income.

You can blame Riley for not putting a better team around him, but they mortgaged everything for Shaq, right? Can't second guess that now.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | March 11, 2008 12:36 AM

They rolled the dice on a chance to win a title right away. They got what they wanted, and if you pumped Riley full of truth serum, my guess is that he'd say he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Posted by: kalorama | March 11, 2008 1:18 AM

Riley had a promising young team with a big three of Odem, Wade and Butler. He wheeled and dealed himself to a short term window to be on top. They ended up being one and done with Shaq.

It's going to be an interesting offseason in Miami, will Riley try to retain Marion,will he go with the lottery pick? Or does he start wheeling and dealing again?

His past history indicates he isn't much of a guy for rebuilding projects. Unless he thinks he's looking at a lottery pick that's "ready on day one", he's likely to deal. With that lottery pick, expiring contracts, and possibly Marion he could do some serious dealing.

He'll make the offseason interesting to watch.

Posted by: GM | March 11, 2008 8:15 AM

Riley is a rat and I hope people are seeing his true colors. If you are gonna jump ship, at least be man enough to come right out and resign. None of this stupid "I am scouting college players on the same night my team is playing" Is he now the college scout, in addition to being the coach? What a loser!

Posted by: Bart | March 11, 2008 8:18 AM

Michael, save this article. You may be able to reuse it next year by substituting the name Caron Butler or Gilbert Arenas for Wade's name.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2008 8:28 AM

correct, that's just why Caron or Gilbert shouldnt rush back - for what?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2008 10:19 AM


Posted by: GO MAVS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!! | March 11, 2008 11:10 AM

It's a shame what happened to D. Wade, because when he's healthy, he's the best 2 guard in the league outside of Kobe. What happened to the Heat, though, was predictable, because they surrounded Wade with old guys to win that title two years ago.

Posted by: John Brisker | March 11, 2008 12:43 PM

If Caron comes back and gets hurt again, someone in Les BouleS management should have their head lopped off.

Riley mortgaging the future of the Heat for that one chance, that one chance to win a championship was brilliant (reminds me of that great speech that Mel Gibson gave in Braveheart).

I said it from the start that the team was old and gray, but had that chance. Championship glory is a great thing, and if it's there, you have to seize it....not sit back and collect lux tax welfare and sell $8 beers and $6 nonkosher dogs while duping most of the fans that you are serious about winning.


On a larger scale, Jordan wants to win now. Like any coach who signed a two-year extension with a team option for the third year last summer, the continuity line gets old.

"But I understand Mr. Pollin's standpoint," Jordan said. "We want to stay within a certain budget for the Washington Wizards. We're not going to be like four or five or six other teams that can do anything it takes to win. Those are decisions we made within the organization. It doesn't bother me. There are times when you say, 'How come we can't get this guy?' But then you say, 'These are the parameters the organization has set.' "


"I asked Arenas last month what he thought the Wizards had to do to appease his wishes. He wouldn't campaign for the Wizards to acquire certain players, but he did say, "If you want a championship, you got to get a championship team."

He added: "I know this might not sound right, but the championship teams treat themselves like champions. You go into Miami's locker room, I'm like, 'Wow, what the hell is this?' Everything from their game-day meals for their players to every state-of-the-art thing you can imagine. As a player, why would you want to leave the locker room? I could sit there all day.

"We've been doing a better job, but it comes down to this: You treat your players like champions, they want to be champions," he added. "All the best teams in the league treat themselves first-class every day. Other players come over and think, 'They got this, they got that. Oh, I want to be here.' "

Whether Arenas was telling Abe Pollin and Ernie Grunfeld to upgrade the Wizards' facilities is up for debate. But he was clearly illustrating how the defending champions take care of their players. How the Wizards interpret Arenas's words gets to the issue of how much leverage stars have in this league."


Posted by: DC Man88 | March 11, 2008 1:29 PM

PLEASE!!!!!!! A locker room is not meant to be the "playboy mansion" this is the problem in pro sports today we cater to atheletes who want it all and then some.If you are serious about winning then a locker room makes not a damn bit of difference,Mark Cuban does it all for his players and what has that gotten him? I would love to see the Spurs locker room todays players are self consumed in their own little world and to hell with everyone else!! I have great admiration for most of the Wizards but that statement by Gilbert is goofy, win something first and then worry about the "LOCKER ROOM".

Posted by: DARGREGMAG@AOL.COM | March 11, 2008 1:51 PM

Will you quit showing them "OLD A" articles that you seem to like to keep referencing. Good lord, if we haven't read them by now, we probably won't. Enough already! Nobody is asking for references. Same ole crap different day! It's like GroundHog day on this post. You wake up and the same ole tired posts and responses day in and day out! Geeze!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2008 1:54 PM

What about an update on Caron? There are IMPORTANT things to report.

Posted by: Thickman | March 11, 2008 2:11 PM

"Will you quit showing them "OLD A" articles that you seem to like to keep referencing. Good lord, if we haven't read them by now, we probably won't. Enough already! Nobody is asking for references. Same ole crap different day! It's like GroundHog day on this post. You wake up and the same ole tired posts and responses day in and day out! Geeze!

Posted by: | March 11, 2008 01:54 PM "

I would stop posting those classic articles if they ever became irrelevant, but the information and quotes garnered from them continues to be relevant, and funny, and will be relevant far into the future until Dishonest Abe decides to give up the reins.

In the meantime, read them and weep, or laugh. Either way, I don't care.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 11, 2008 2:17 PM

What ever!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2008 2:23 PM

Groundhog Day! I love it!

Posted by: GM | March 11, 2008 2:38 PM

See, I knew the peanut gallery would love it, especially peanut head.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 11, 2008 3:50 PM

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