Ego In Check, Wade Does Less For More

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CHICAGO – This ongoing attempt by the Chicago Bulls to unseat the NBA defending champion Miami Heat, an outsized task for an undermanned team, might be going better if Dwyane Wade were 27 years old.

Wait, what…?

True, it seems counterintuitive to suggest that a younger, healthier, more vibrant and assertive Wade – who launched an average of 22 shots a game in 2008-09 while leading the league in scoring (30.2 ppg) – might actually make the Heat less dangerous rather than more. But that Wade, even with one NBA title tucked away, still had things to prove.

He wasn’t as inclined to wrestle with his ego in those days and, when he did, he lost more than he won. LeBron James? Four and five years ago, Wade saw him as a friend, sure, but also as the competition. James would have remained so even if they had teamed up back then.

And now? Wade can laugh about taking just one shot in the first half of a playoff game played in his hometown, can joke about the “efficiency” of his 5-for-7 performance for a mere 10 points. As Game 4 against Chicago Monday drew near, Wade was fine with his numbers because the Heat’s numbers – six victories down, 10 to go in their quest to reach and win The Finals – were right where they needed to be.

Funny how much wiser 31 can be than 27.

“You only play this game for so long and, when you leave this game, what memories are you gonna have?” Wade told a cluster of reporters after Miami’s workout Sunday at a University of Illinois-Chicago gym. “The memories I want to have are memories of success as a team. That’s why you make decisions like this. It’s not easy. It’s hard.

“Would I have ever thought I’d be in a playoff game, that I’d take seven shots and hit five? Hell no. But at the end of the game, was I [ticked off] about it? Nope. We won the game, moved on, had a great dinner. Now I’m looking forward to Game 4 and hopefully having a different output.”

Hoping for a different outcome was what triggered all this. Back in 2010, four years after Miami’s Wade-and-Shaquille O’Neal push to its first NBA title, the shooting guard dubbed “Flash” by his big buddy was – whoosh! – there and gone from the postseason that spring. He averaged 33.2 points in the first round against Boston and still got bounced in five games. Wade vowed it never would happen again. Two months later, James and Chris Bosh signed on for their big-time buddy ball.

“If I was a selfish player, this team never would have been assembled,” Wade said Sunday, while sitting an arm’s length away from James, dealing with his own media scrum. “If I was a selfish guy, it would have never worked.

“Once we made a decision to play together, that first year, we both were trying to be alphas at the same time and it worked at times and it was hard a lot of times. You just had to look and say, ‘OK, what is going to be best for this team?’ I felt I was a person who’d had to play different roles before, so I understand more a little bit than LeBron how to take a back seat and be a Plan B or be a 1A.”

James’ career arc, after that blip of adjustment in 2010-11, soars again. He is at the peak of his powers and has added two more MVP awards to the pair he won in Cleveland. Wade probably never will win one. But his chances of winning another ring? Those look better than ever.

All he has to do is cope with his aching right knee – there’s no mending that till summer now – and occasional snarky stuff in the media about how disengaged and low-impact he has looked lately.

“I don’t worry about that,” Wade said. “Now if I shoot 5-for-17, it’s a different conversation. But I took seven shots. You’ve got to look at my touches, more so than anything. WhenI had opportunities. … It varies from game to game. I’m a big boy. I know I can shoot a shot any time I want to. That’s not a problem.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and Wade both said the challenge against Chicago’s stingy defense is to get those five guys moving side to side and, ultimately, a little less tied together. So far, Wade has been effective at that, typically probing and drawing a second defender, then passing out to Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers or James for more open opportunities.

The Heat might run a few more post-ups for Wade, given his advantages down low against Bulls counterpart Marco Belinelli. He’s almost certain to get to the foul line more if they do, though boosting his scoring average (13.0) in the series is nobody’s priority. Not the Bulls’, not the Heat’s, not his.

“As long as we’re in position to win and we’re playing good basketball, I will never complain,” Wade said. “Even though we all to an extent have egos, we all have a little selfishness in us as humans, I’m able to take myself out of it at times and try to do what’s best for the team. Even in the moment if it don’t look good.”

As for Game 4 and what’s left of the series and Miami’s postseason, Wade said: “I wouldn’t bet that I’ll shoot seven shots again. I can’t say I won’t, but I wouldn’t bet it would be seven.”

21 Comments

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  2. Jace Roque says:

    I agree with the dude who said D-Wade’s the man in this team. He’s a captain. A great player. And a very good teammate. With Wade, sacrificing his own ego, he gave more to his team. He understood his limits. He does. And he contributes the way he knows what will be the best for the team. LeBron maybe leading the team now to victory, but without D-Wade who led the team first, he wouldnt able to do this.

  3. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    up 3-1 going back to Miami for game 5…
    Chicago fans will you now please be quiet… shhhhh

  4. Rootz says:

    True! Bron does it again!

  5. holyspectator says:

    didnt matter bulls got spanked again, lets wrap it up on game 5 in miami…

  6. Rootz says:

    My bad, I meant,
    …he’s THE DON…and all NBA, would love to be on his team, likely because…
    Now that you mention it though, of course they may be a few players to play better than Bron in some ways and if they learn to handle school, media, peers and the numerous pressures, and then play emaculate on the biggest basketball stage in the world,(international ball has helped prove that NBA is just that) then Bron would still be the Don because it’s most likey they began to play all aspects of the game(which is what he’d have to do to have a chance at being better than Bron) because they say Lebron James play and emmulated the King’s style. I wouldn’t hate on that, only embrace it. hopefully one day NBA will have All-Star line ups on every team, and that would be due to players learning to play both ends and all aspects of the game, like Bron.
    Shout out to brilliant Pat Riley, and the luckiest man in the NBA Eric Spoelstra

    • Damian says:

      You’re right, no amount of skill in the world can help you cope with all that pressure. Just saying there is a good chance that many great players “skill-wise”, may not always be picked up by scouts. Anyway it seems like we agree on Lebron, so hopefully he does it against the Bulls today.

  7. Rootz says:

    Well said Whatever. The talk used to be the Bron loves to differ too much and doesn’t wanna be THE man so it makes sense he would step back to a 1a if it came to that, and in 15 more years that might happen, knock on wood, but for now he’s THE DON in the league and the world and any player from past or present, streetball or international and all NBA, likely because of his UNselfishness and mad arsnenal of skills, point being Wade and his ego should be happy and proud to win rings with him.

    • Damian says:

      “the world, streetball”??? Come on now, that’s taking it a bit too far isn’t it? I like Lebron, he’s my favourite player but there is probably some kid out there playing on the streets that’s better than Lebron and Wade combined.

      • brianwchu says:

        “Better” in what way? There’s no way, qualitatively or quantitatively, that a “kid” who has never played in the NBA let alone college would be able to be “better” by anyone’s standing. Talent threshold is a different story, but we all know talent threshold doesn’t mean anything without work ethic and discipline. And let’s be honest, there’s been no one in recent memory that had a higher threshold than James, who also is one of the most hard working and disciplined athletes in any sport. So it puzzles me to think that you can definitively say there’s someone better than not just James, but James and Wade combined. Unless we’re day dreaming. Then sure, by all means.

      • huh? says:

        Dude are you Ron Artest?

      • Michael says:

        Umm… No.

      • bigwes95 says:

        maybe one on one, but have them on a team like the NBA and their record would probably be 10-72, maybe. there’s a reason they still play on the playgrounds, and it’s not because they’re the best in the world….

      • bigwes95 says:

        and I mean a team of street ballers, not just one

  8. José Manuel Castillo says:

    Si MIAMI va a la cancha con la misma actitud del juego 1 y 3, es dificil que gane. MIAMI debe aumentar los puntos en la pintura, para meter en faltas a los BULL. LeBron y Wade en juego 3 no atacaron el aro. Creo que deben ser más agresivos y si Los BULLS juegan sucio, que jugadores como THE BIRD, HASLEM Y BOSH, den las faltas duras. Esa fue la clave en juego 2, atacar el aro.

  9. Whatever says:

    @………
    So did you instead want LeBron to stand back and be plan B? Would that have made him a “man”? I sure hope you don’t think they are equal in skills, and either of them could have been the face of the team. Wade HAD to be the one to step back, not because he was a “bigger man” but because he was the worse of the two.

    LeBron never had the opportunity to step back and be plan B, so you can’t say he’s not a man because of it.

    • Game Time says:

      Miami is playing team ball more and less Big 3 ball. It’s working so no need to look at Wade doing less. He said it perfectly “we are winning”.

  10. Bone says:

    STOP BLAMING JAMES,,,, BLAME D-ROSE FOR BEING PAID MILLIONS WHILE SITTING ON THE BENCH… LOSERS…

  11. theholyspecatator says:

    miami wins by 8 tonight and close out these fools in miami, hopefully to face knicks but dont know it may be the pacers again .. RIP bulls.

  12. Freida says:

    Wade needs to do a little more. I love the Miami Heat team but I feel that Dwyane Wade has 2 rings and may not be as compelled to win another ring like LeBron. End this Bull team once and for all!! I believe Thib is a coach that plays football rather than basketball. If you can’t beat Miami, beat them up. Coach Thib created this with working the players hard all season while other teams were smart to rest their key players. So MIami end the Bulls!!!

  13. ............. says:

    And because of his prudence, maturity and sacrifice for the better of the team, he will always be (at least in my eyes) THE man on this team