LOS ANGELES – Even months after winning the NBA Finals MVP, the honors keep coming for Dwyane Wade.

On Monday, it was announced Wade will be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, becoming the sixth time an NBA player was selected in the 52-year history of the award, joining Bill Russell (1968), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1985), Rory Sparrow (1987), Michael Jordan (1991) and Tim Duncan and David Robinson (2003).

Wade has known about the selection for about a month, but said he was “shocked” when he heard the news.

“When you think of Sportsman of the Year, you can go into every sport, there’s always Tiger Woods, who every year can win, and then Roger Federer, the other guy who had an unbelievable year,” said Wade, who averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals in the Heat’s six-game Finals triumph. “I was thrilled. But I kind of know that, to me, it’s all dedicated to my teammates and what we did last year with that incredible run to the Finals.”

Heat coach Pat Riley said he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than Wade.

“He deserves it,” Riley said. “I can’t think of any other singular athlete in any other sport last year who had a better year and a better ending and did something dramatic in his sport.

“Also he’s very good in the community. He’s a great choice.”

The Sportsman of the Year issue of SI will be on newsstands Wednesday, and Wade will receive a trophy at a party in his honor Dec. 14 in New York.

“This award has always stood for more than the victory alone. It recognizes the manner of an athlete’s striving and the quality of his or her efforts,” SI Group Editor Terry McDonell said. “Dwyane embodies that winning spirit by playing for his team, not himself, and by working in the community to ensure young people have the chance to realize their own dreams.”

THIS AND THAT

– After his team practiced at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Monday, Riley joked that he won’t start Los Angeles native Dorell Wright tonight against the Clippers to “humble him.”

Once he got serious, Riley said the starting job is Wright’s for the duration, unless Wright proves otherwise.

“It’s his job to lose or to keep,” Riley said. “He’s been playing very well for us. If he continues to develop, then I would say Dwyane Wade and Dorell Wright will be a good shooting guard-small forward combo for years to come. But it’s up to him.”

– After his 14-assist game against Memphis on Saturday, it seems point guard Jason Williams is working through his knee issues.

Riley said the worst part might be over for Williams, who started against the Grizzlies because of an ear infection to Gary Payton and might start again tonight.

“It seems like he’s gotten through the tough part of it,” Riley said. “I’m satisfied with it.”

– Riley said part of the reason the Heat has played better the past five games, winning three and losing two others by a combined five points, has been that his players aren’t settling for as many three-pointers. In the past five games, the Heat has averaged 12.4 threes a game, which is down from 18.2 attempts in the first 11 games.

“We’re on the right track, moving in the right direction and playing the game better,” Riley said.



(c) 2006, The Miami Herald.

Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.herald.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.



ARCHIVE PHOTOS on MCT Direct (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Dwyane Wade

AP-NY-12-04-06 2211EST


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