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Playoffs looming, and Wade thinking of a 3rd ring
“In any field, any profession, you’re going to deal with egos,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And if you’re the face of your organization and then you willingly take a step back and sacrifice to add more talent so the organization or your corporation can become better, I don’t know how many people will be willing to do that. You have to be very, very mature. If it were easy, more players would try to attempt what we’re doing right now.”
Thing is, it’s not easy, even though Wade has made it seem that way.
He gave up money, nearly $20 million in guaranteed salary, when he signed his most recent deal with Miami in order to make all the other roster moves fall into place. He’s given up shots; he took a career-high 1,739 shots five seasons ago, which is only 176 fewer attempts than he’s taken in the last two seasons combined. He’s given up a huge portion of the spotlight; remember, even President Barack Obama said earlier this year that it’s James‘ world now.
“I didn’t want that life anymore,” Wade said. “I want a different life. This is the life that I choose. Sometimes it’s frustrating because I know I’ve got more, but team success is way more fulfilling than the individual. I’ve totally changed my game. I tried to do it for what I feel is the best for this team. Was it the best for me individually? Maybe not. But I did what I think is best for this team.”
And in the playoffs, he’ll try to keep doing the same.
A year ago, the Heat were dealing with the sting of losing the 2011 Finals, along with all the can-LeBron-ever-win questions. They were on the ropes against Indiana in the second round last year, needed to win two elimination games to top Boston in a ultra-competitive East finals, then lost Game 1 of the Finals to Oklahoma City before winning the last four games of the season.
This time around, the Heat have the best record in basketball. The question no longer is “Can they win?” It’s now closer to “How can they lose?”
To Wade, that’s the playoff challenge. Finding an edge last year was easy. Finding an edge this time around will be more difficult, but necessary.
“I think the thing that’s going to get us over that hump is really understanding the opportunity that we have and not letting it slip, because this kind of team, this kind of moment, they don’t come around often,” Wade said. “Understanding the importance of this is what we’ll probably have to pull from. This is historic, what we’re embarking on. That’s got to mean something to us as a team. So let’s go.”
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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