Commentary

Wade ready to lead Heat back to prominence

Dwyane Wade spent his summer winning gold. Now he wants the Heat to return to winning ways, Sebastián Martínez Christensen writes.

Updated: September 27, 2008, 12:10 AM ET
By Sebastián Martínez Christensen | ESPNDeportes.com

Editor's Note: This story is a translation from ESPNDeportes.com:

MIAMI -- Judging by Dwyane Wade's face, nothing revealed that the Miami Heat are coming off having the worst record (15-67) in the NBA.

Redemption seems to be at hand. Wade considers himself healthy and now calls himself an Olympic champion.

"I am entering my sixth year in the NBA and I am about to take on a task that is new to me," said Wade. "I am now the leader of this team."

Shaquille O'Neal is no longer with the Heat --Wade has admitted he has felt "shielded" with Shaq around in the past -- and it will be Wade's job to guide a young and talented group of players that includes Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers.

"I have already organized a team meeting," recalled Wade. "It was really productive and that's how we are going to manage ourselves: face to face. We all know that if somebody fails, we all fail."

Despite the fact that Wade has always been a leader by action, he says the Beijing Olympic Games helped him in other ways.

"I learned a lot in China," he said. "Just being near a person like Jason Kidd for a month makes you grow right in front of your own eyes."

Wade quieted his critics as a part of the U.S. Olympic team, needing only a little more over 17 minutes per game to prove them wrong. He played stellar defense and was the main injection of energy in the Redeem Team.

"Last year, I just didn't have my athletic ability, and it was really frustrating," said Wade.

"But now I have rested for a month and I feel really healthy. I haven't played much basketball this past thirty days, but I am ready for the preseason."

However, no matter how much Wade desires to get back on court, that doesn't cover the fact that this Heat team has a lot of holes, especially at point guard.

"I think that is an overrated issue. There are very few teams with true point guards, and that's what makes Deron Williams and Chris Paul so special," said Wade.

"But we have a lot of good young players in Marcus Banks, Chalmers and Chris Quinn. Besides, I will handle the rock as well."

Never was inexperience and a lack of self-direction as evident as when Beasley and Chalmers were fined at the rookie symposium for breaking the rules.

"In that meeting we had, they admitted their mistake, and we backed them up. It is as simple as that," said Wade.

"Talent-wise, you rarely see a player with such a knack for scoring as Beasley, and believe [it] when I tell you Chalmers is a great player and defender."

The Heat might be an entertaining team to watch. But the fact is that they went from NBA Champions in 2006 to the laughingstock of pro basketball last season.

"Whoever is not angry, and doesn't have a chip on their shoulder in that locker room, simply doesn't belong there," added Wade.

In fact, few experts see the Heat as a likely playoff contender.

"Once the action starts, nothing of that sort matters. We have to be really focused right from the get-go, because that's when we can steal a couple of games and build our confidence."

In the 2006 Finals, Wade gave us his best imitation of Michael Jordan in a defining moment.

True, the injuries have followed him over the last couple of years, but the gold medal he now has is evidence enough that he is back to his old self.

Even Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted Wade was simply "unstoppable" in Beijing.

Beasley should live up to the hype while Shawn Marion adapts to a slower style of play than the one he was accustomed to in Phoenix and Wade is back to being Wade, then everything will be possible in South Florida.

At least that is what the new sheriff in town thinks.

"We are in a rebuilding phase, but make no mistake, our goal are the playoffs."