Dwyane Wade plays through pain as integral part of title

MIAMI — NBA officials were trying to convince Dwyane Wade to get off the floor and head to the interview room. But he didn’t want to move.

The Miami Heat guard was sitting in a hallway leading to the locker room with the Larry O’Brien Trophy between his legs and a championship hat on his head. He was holding a cigar in one hand and a bottle of Champagne in the other.

Wade had visitors. His girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union, stopped by and borrowed a television microphone to ask mock interview questions. Fellow Big Three members LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived at one point and sat on the floor next to Wade as photos were being snapped.

James and Bosh eventually left. But Wade was still sitting there.

“I don’t have anything left,’’ Wade said. “I’m going to rest a long time, man. Everything I had tonight, I gave. … I’m exhausted. It’s been a long journey.’’

Wade, playing on a pair of wobbly knees, had just scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Thursday night as the Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in the decisive Game 7 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Wade was asked at one point how his knees felt. He took the bottle of bubbly and poured a bit on each knee.

“Let me tell you something, man,’’ Wade said. “That’s how the knees feel. The knees felt good.’’

Actually, they haven’t too good for awhile. Wade played the entire postseason with a painful bone bruise on his right knee. Then he took a hard shot in Game 6 to his left knee, which had to be surgically repaired last summer.

Still, Wade logged 39 minutes against the Spurs. He shot 11 of 21 and also blocked two shots.

“You guys don’t know what he’s going through with his body,’’ said Union, taking time out from asking Wade questions to answer one herself. “With those two knees, for him to even be on the court and be productive, you have no idea. You have no idea what goes into getting him ready every day for practice to walk, to go get in the carpool lane, much less on the court. And I’m proud of him. My thing is I said, ‘Suck it up, sister.’ ’’

Wade did just that. With James (37) and Wade combining for 60 points, the Heat won their second straight title.

It was the third for Wade, who claimed his first in 2006, four years before the Big Three was put together. But he said nothing can compare to the latest.

“It’s so sweet,’’ said Wade, who said he won’t need knee surgery this summer. “Everything that we’ve been through, everything I’ve been through individually, this one is the sweetest one. I’m going to enjoy this moment. … To have this victory and with the championship, there is really nothing better than this. … Not many teams have won back-to-back. At the end of the day, this is historic.’’

It wouldn’t have been possible without Wade. He had his share of uneven moments during the postseason, but he stepped up when he really was needed.

Wade scored 21 points in a Game 7 win over Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals and 32 in a pivotal Finals Game 4 win. Then came Thursday.

“They tried to bury Dwyane, but he kept pushing open that coffin door,’’ Miami forward Shane Battier said. “And that’s Dwyane Wade. … He’s a competitor, a fighter.  And when it counts most, he’ll be there.’’

But now it is time for Wade to rest. He said he made a deal with his knees before Game 7.

“I told my knees, ‘I’m going to treat you all good this summer. Just give me one more game,’ ’’ Wade said.

Wade’s knees have helped make him one of just seven active NBA players with three or more championship rings. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher each have five. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (four), Tony Parker (three) and Manu Ginobili (three) remain stalled at their current figures. And Heat forward Udonis Haslem also got his third Thursday.

“What can you say?’’ James said. “(Wade is) a three-time champion, gold medalist (in 2008), Finals MVP (in 2006). He’s one of the greatest two guards, one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. He continues to add to his resume.’’

Whenever Wade can get to Kinkos to update that resume, he might make one change at the top.

“My name is Three, not Dwyane,’’ Wade said.

Those were among the first words Wade said after he finally was convinced by NBA officials to get off the floor and head to the interview room. He had walked gingerly to the podium.

But Wade soon was off his knees again. After all, he’d promised them a long rest this summer.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com
or on Twitter @christomasson
.