Wade Glad ‘Touch-And-Go’ Season Survived, Thrived Post-Lockout





OKLAHOMA CITYDwyane Wade was angry. He already had been frustrated with what he and other members of the National Basketball Players Association had been hearing from the opposite side of the table. The NBA lockout was three months old, the 2011-12 season was in jeopardy and, during a five-hour negotiating session on the first day of October, commissioner David Stern started pointing his finger at Wade while making this point or that about the players’ proposal.

“Don’t point your finger at me,” Wade reportedly said, his voice rising, according to sources in the room that day. “I’m not a child.”

That was then, back when the leaves were changing. Fast-forward to Tuesday morning, on a hot Oklahoma morning, with Wade sitting courtside after the Miami Heat’ s shootaround session inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. He was about eight hours away from tipoff of Game 1 of the 2012 Finals, more than eight months removed from one of the lockout’s darkest moments.

Did Wade ever lose hope, I asked him, that anyone would get to this point, never mind his Miami team?

Wade chuckled. “There was a lot of touch-and-go whether we’d even have an NBA season, I think for a lot of players,” he said. “To be here after everything that went on [last] summer, this shortened season, to finally be in The Finals … Till you brought it up, I kind of forgot about it a little, with everything that went on.

“But this was where we wanted to get to. When I was sitting across [from Stern and the owners] in the boardroom, this is what I wanted to be back to.”

There been a lot of games since then, 66 per team crammed into about a four-month bag. There have been injuries, chronic ones and serious ones, both in the regular season and postseason. There also has been record ratings for broadcast and cable TV games, attendance records in some markets. That overall clamor for the NBA outweighed any ill effects from the compressed schedule or lost weeks of October, November and most of December. Stern was expected to talk about all that in his state of the NBA media conference about an hour before Game 1 Tuesday.

But Wade didn’t have to wait — he is, after all, not a child.

“A great season,” he called it. “Probably better than we thought we would have with the shortened season. Unfortunately we had some injuries, but you have injuries every year. I think overall, the excitement for the game of basketball is either the same or better than it’s been. From the rise of a team like OKC to [become one of] the better teams in the league … there’s a lot of storylines. I thought this was one of the best years in the NBA.”

OK, so on that one, Stern and Wade are on the same side of the table. But what about players and management across the league? Coming out of the 1999 lockout, there was talk of friction and resentment over the millions of dollars flushed in potential revenue and from the sting of comments that couldn’t be unsaid.

“Nope,” Wade said of current player-owner relations. “Once it was over with and we signed the deal, we’re partners again. We’re working together to grow this game.”

Another lockout issue from 1999, when the NBA salvaged a 50-game regular season that began in February, was the integrity of everything that followed. Phil Jackson, who was between gigs with Chicago and the Lakers back then, said San Antonio’s championship that June deserved “an asterisk” for being less than 82-games legit.

So what about the Heat or the Thunder? Is 66 games, plus a full playoff run, credible in a way that 50 was not?

“I don’t see no one taking a championship away from Tim Duncan,” Wade said. “I wasn’t there. I don’t know. But this was more challenging than an 82-game season. Because everything happened so fast. You barely got any rest, even in the playoffs.

“The guys who are left, who get crowned for this season should really feel like real champions. Because you have to be a real champion to make it to the end of this season.”

14 Comments

  1. G.Lane says:

    Face it any one who actually watched game 2 of the finals or any of the ECF games knows the fix is in.Miami will win. The nba has gone the way of professional wrestling,it is an exhibition not a sport.people say 3 bad calls changed the game.i saw @ least 10 bad or no calls during the 2nd half in game 2.i wont watch the nba any more.i dont mind my team losing but let it be fair.

  2. Godwin Ejenakevbe says:

    2012 NBA FINALS – GAME 1
    The NBA REFEREES SHOULD BE FAIR IN THEIR CALLS.
    THEY SEEM TO BE SIDING THE HEAT AGAINST THE THUNDER.
    LET THE BEST TEAM WIN!
    DON’T FIX THE GAMES!!
    - Godwin U Ejenakevbe
    Chicago Illinois

  3. NBAfan says:

    Like I said many times before. I like Wade’s mental and physical toughness, but the way he plays, he won’t be able to play at a high level for too long. He relies too much on his physical gifts. His speed. His jumping. His strength. His reaction time. His body control. They are all great and very impressive, but after so many years in the league, I don’t know if his game has EVOLVED enough to have a very long career at a high level.

    Kobe was never too physically gifted in the first place so he had to beat them with skill and smarts…and that’s why at 33 years old, he is still doing what he does. Can you imagine Wade doing the things he WAS doing 3 years later? He’s barely doing it now….

  4. Mitra says:

    Wade was not that Wade we saw in 2006. Let us face it. Miami is in championship final becuase of Labron. I am really amazed when I think how a person on earth can bear so much pressure and scrutiny and still produce this type of performance night after night. Think about all play-off series Miami played this year.

    If Miami wants to have the championship, Wade, Busch and other role players must rise up and play aggressively and fearlessly. Labron by himself can’t win a championship especially against a team like Thunder.

  5. RazRah says:

    Wade played better in the finals than Lebron. What do you mean he faded away since Lebron came? They all knew they had to make statistical sacrifices. Wade extended his career. He doesn’t have to do it all by himself. It’s good that he could sit back through an injury plagued season and still get to the finals. I bet he is only 85% healthy. Which is great considering his stats were comprable to any guard in the league.

    • ang says:

      WT$%^#!! R U BLIND!!? WADE PLAYED SO POOOORRRRLYYY THROUGHT THE PLAYOFF AND SEASON!! LOOK AT THE NUMBERS!! UGH!

  6. DANITo says:

    wade played very poorly thru out the playoff, he faded away since lebron went to miami. if he wona save his career he should ask for trade,

    • Jimmy says:

      not everyone is as selfish as you i guess…

    • joe says:

      do you think wade would want to get a 30 ppg average on a team that gets eliminated in the early rounds of the playoffs, or to drop his stats back and play on a team that has gotten to the Finals twice in two attempts? in saying that though, he has played poorly recently haha never fear, its his turn now. Pacer series was about bosh (injury), celtics series was about james (game 6 performance, high stat sheet), thunder series will be (has to be, needs to be!) about wade

  7. GAME1EXPERT says:

    As it turns out, the shortened season only helped everyone besides Derrick Rose. Ratings skyrocketed and whoever wins the NBA finals completely deserves the victory (but they shouldn’t blow it up). It is the same honor as winning the trophy in a normal season, so Wade shouldn’t say it is more impressive but at the same time I see where he is coming from.

  8. seewhatyouwant says:

    I almost forgot about that clash I guess that is why stern is still treating wade like this (not letting him go to the line and not giving him any calls) stern the lash out probably was uncalled for and probably built resentment over the years but you are an old man in your “prime” and you would let that affect you good one

  9. jzarecta says:

    Interesting change of tone with the Finals, we tend to forget about there was a shortened regular season and the arrengement wasnt even that well for either party. So this might go back to the negotiating table after tall in the near future.