« Where Do They Go From Here? | Main | A Heat(related) Tid-bit or Three »

D.Wade? Enough's Enough (Updated)

By now, Dwyane Wade has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Or, at least he should have. I'm convinced. If the man says his left knee is no longer an issue, maybe,Wadeolympics  just maybe, it isn't.

Wade has certainly put in the necessary work to rehab the knee he had surgically repaired a year ago. Yes, the same knee that acted up most of last season and eventually forced him out of the lineup for good in mid-March. Wade, the Heat's superstar guard, will tested that knee for the second time early Thursday morning, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in Team USA's 114-82 exhibition victory against Turkey in Macau, China.

That brings Wade's average to 16.5 points in two pre-Olympic tuneups. Thursday's game included another handful of acrobatic layups and dunks - explosive plays Wade had been unable or unwilling to attempt over the past season-and-a-half since while he was slowed by shoulder and left knee injuries that required surgery.

Wade spoke with Heat beat writers in advance of Thursday's game. And naturally, one of the first questions he faced dealt with the status of his health.

"I know how hard I've worked, so I'm not out there to prove I worked hard to anybody or that I'm healthy," Wade said, defensively if not outright defiantly. "I'm not into proving it to guys anymore. I think my play will show the rest. That's my whole focus."

Wade has certainly done his part to erase any doubts about his health. He took a big first step toward convincing many with his explosive 20-point performance against Canada a week ago. He took another step on Thursday. Sure, it was Canada and a surprisingly feisty Turkey team.

But the performances were more than about the opponent for Wade. He is essentially playing a game within himself. His opponent is D.Wade. And with each dunk, cut to the basket or ball he swipes on the defensive end, Wade is distancing himself from the concerns over his health.

Or, at least he should be.

Wadetraining_2  Yet, Wade still faces those injury questions.

Even as Kobe Bryant continues to play with a finger that is part sprained, part dislocated and has a partially torn ligament.

Even as LeBron James became the first semi-casualty on the roster when he nursed a sprained ankle that forced him out of last week's tuneup.

Even as Dwight Howard pushed through the aftereffects of a sternum injury that kept him out of Olympic training camp.

The last question I asked Wade regarding his health will be the last one I ask until there's evidence he should be pressed on the matter again. For now, he's healthy. He's not only saying as much, he's playing as much, too.

Of course, this can all change with one tweak here or twist there. But it's clear now - or at least it should be - that Wade's not putting himself at no greater risk than anyone else on the roster.

Perhaps his first significant test will come Friday against Lithuania as Team USA plays the second of back-to-back games in consecutive days. Even in limited doses, it will be interesting to see how much Wade pushes himself - or how much he's used - under such circumstances. So far, he's passing all of the physical tests. His durability might remain in question, but his explosion is back.

After being around him the past few weeks, Wade's Olympic teammates are no longer skeptical of his health. If he continues to show what he's been showing, why should anyone else be, either?




Powered by TypePad