Wade’s 2nd title comes along a different path

More than a little bit has changed since Dwyane Wade’s first

taste of an NBA championship.

He became a father for the second time. He played for the worst

team in the league. He won an Olympic gold medal. He got divorced.

He convinced LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join him in Miami. He

dealt with an ugly custody fight that took years and in some ways

continues today. He wrote a book this year. He lost a championship

series last year.

A whirlwind, by any measure.

”What I dealt with personally,” Wade said, ”was indescribable

in a sense.”

So was the feeling he had Thursday night – as a champion for the

second time.

Wade and the Miami Heat are back atop the NBA world. He scored

20 points, James had a triple-double and the Heat beat the Oklahoma

City Thunder 121-106 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, winning the title

in five games. James left with the MVP trophy this time, six years

later after it was Wade with it in Dallas. And Wade couldn’t have

been happier about the arrangement.

”Two years ago, putting this team together, obviously we all

expected it to be a little easier than it was,” Wade said. ”But

we had to go through what we had to go through last year. We needed

to. And as much as it hurt, we had to go through that pain and that

suffering. To get to this point of this season and the rest of our

careers together, we’ll take nothing for granted.”

When he says that – nothing for granted – he truly means it, and

in more than a basketball sense.

Even during these finals, Wade’s private life was problematic.

His ex-wife was charged with, among other things, trying to abduct

their two sons when she failed to release them from a visit to her

home as scheduled. The incident coincided with Father’s Day, and it

wasn’t the first time custody of the boys was an issue on the

holiday that Wade cherishes.

For days, he told only close family and friends. He scored 25

points in a finals game, hours after the boys got to their Miami

home a day behind schedule and after some phone calls that could be

best described as angst-laden.

The boys were with him on Thursday, the night he became a

champion again.

”I have an unbelievable family, I have an unbelievable core,

unbelievable support of friends and loved ones,” Wade said. ”And

to be back here with this trophy sitting next to me six years

later, I’m blessed, I’m lucky to be put in the position I am. I’m

going to enjoy this one a lot more than I enjoyed 2006. When you

get there early, you say, `Oh, man, we’re going to do this again

next year.’ This is not guaranteed right here, man. You have to

enjoy this, and we will do that.”

Wade did something that a lot of stars would not have done to

make this title happen.

He sacrificed, and sacrificed a lot. He left about $20 million

in salary on the table in owner Micky Arison’s office to make sure

that James, Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and others could be

squeezed under the cap two summers ago. He turned over the role of

team go-to guy to James, the player that even Wade will acknowledge

is better.

”Best player in the world,” Wade said.

That’s what Heat president Pat Riley used to call Wade. It’s not

a slight on Wade that someone better is here now. It’s what Wade

wanted in the first place. Odds are, Wade will never be the

highest-paid player on his team. He’s never been. But in the next

few months, he’ll get his second championship ring, and the way

this team is built, it easily might not be his last.

”We made a decision two years ago to become a team,” Wade

said. ”You know, LeBron, Chris and myself, and other guys decided

to come together. So you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make

sure that you reach your goal. And I had a position, I had a role

to play. It might have changed a little bit, but at the end of the

day we all had one common goal, and that was to become the

champions.”

On Thursday, that finally happened.

On the same court where Dallas celebrated in front of them a

year ago, Wade and the Heat won it all. A banner will rise,

confetti fell.

How fitting. Ups and downs, just like his life has seen over

these last six years.

”I’m speechless,” Wade said. ”Winning the championship in

2006 was amazing. But I didn’t go through nothing yet. Now six

years after that, I’ve been through a lot in my personal life, and

I’ve been through a lot in my professional life, and this means so

much more.”

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