Riley revealed for the first time the seriousness of the surgery Wade underwent on his left shoulder last May.In the past week, Wade has missed one game and come off the bench in another, all because of continued soreness in the joint. And with the Heat all but officially out of the playoff hunt (at this point, they'd have to finish 33-15 the rest of the season just to hit .500, and nothing about their current seven-game losing streak suggests that's possible), it won't be a surprise to see Wade continue to sit out as these games become less and less important. So instead of worrying too much about this year, let's consider Wade's future. Will he ever get right?
"I don't think anybody realizes how bad this was." Riley said. "It was a reverse dislocation, which doesn't happen that much. And he had nerve damage."
Not to say I told you so, but reading about his current predicament reminds me of something I wrote two years ago:
See, the thing is, I can't help but watch Wade's acrobatic highlights and think that he's going to be the next Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill or Tracy McGrady - great players who broke down in the midst of their prime due to injury. There aren't many players in the league that take as much abuse driving the lane as Wade does, and marketing schtick aside, his "fall seven times, stand up eight" commerical is completely misleading: he's averaged 11 missed regular-season games in his three years in the league, including seven this year. And during the Eastern Conference Finals last year, he was forced to watch Game 6 from the sidelines, watching his less-talented teammates lose perhaps the most important game in Miami Heat history.Mind you, that was written in April 2006, before Wade missed 31 games last year. Over his first four seasons, he averaged 16 missed games, and less than halfway through this season he's already sat out eight. I'm not saying his current shoulder ailment is destined to become chronic, but his style of play puts him in constant danger of getting injured again.
Couldn't he just ease up on the reckless drives to the basket? I suppose, but considering he still doesn't have much of a jump shot and remains a career .243 shooter from three-point land, the moment he stops throwing himself into the paint with reckless abandon is the moment he stops being an All-Star caliber player, let alone a franchise cornerstone.
My advice to Miami Heat fans? Quit dreaming about what Wade could be (one of the top three players in the league) and accept what he is (a chronically-injured star who might not even average 70 games a season for his career).