LAUDERHILL, Fla. (AP) – A couple hundred people were crowded around Dwyane Wade on Monday, watching the standout Miami Heat guard take a ceremonial 16-footer to officially open a refurbished basketball court at a city park.
It’ll be a while before Heat fans see him attempt another shot.
Although Wade said his rehabilitation from knee and shoulder operations is going well, the 2006 NBA finals MVP may not be ready to play when Miami opens training camp in early October – casting some doubt whether the Heat’s top scorer will be on the floor when the regular season begins.
“I’m a fast healer, but my doctor really wants to make sure I’m well and I’m healthy and we don’t have to go through this process again,” Wade said at the court dedication, part of a program sponsored by Staples and his Wade’s World foundation.
Wade had surgery on May 15, both on his left side. He said the knee operation, which was to relieve tendinitis, typically is followed by a three-month rehab program.
But the shoulder procedure – necessary because he dislocated the joint in February, causing him to miss 23 games – usually requires six months before a patient is fully healed.
The regular season opens in late October.
“I want to make sure I’m as healthy as possible and play the most games I can play without going in and out of the lineup,” Wade said. “I’d rather take it slow now and really hit it toward the end.”
Wade came back to the Heat late in the regular season, saying the shoulder wasn’t a big concern. Still, he was so hobbled by the knee condition commonly called “jumper’s knee” that the normally high-flying guard could barely dunk for his first few days after rejoining Miami’s lineup. He limped noticeably at times.
Miami was swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Chicago Bulls, and Wade had surgery a couple of weeks later.
“It’s a long process,” said Wade, a three-time All-Star who averaged a career-best 27.4 points last season. “It’s not an overnight thing. So I’m taking it a day at a time and I’m coming along. … It’s tough to rehab the whole left side of your body at one time, but I’m making it work.”
Wade has been rehabbing for about two months, mostly in his hometown of Chicago. His range of motion with the shoulder is improving – “you can see under my arm now,” he said, raising the limb a bit for emphasis – and was able to take a couple shot attempts without grimacing.
He, Shaquille O’Neal and Jason Williams combined to miss 94 games last season, a stat that clearly didn’t help Miami’s championship defense. Wade said he’d ideally play in all 82 regular-season games next season, yet has made it clear that he won’t rush back just to be in uniform on opening night.
Wade was appearing in South Florida one day after Heat center Alonzo Mourning announced he’ll play one more season before retiring.
“You give us a healthy Shaq and a healthy D-Wade for a full season,” Mourning said, “and I like our chances.”