Wade says he'll try to return for playoffs
MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade will try to come back this season.
The Miami Heat guard said Monday he has decided to delay surgery and rehabilitate his dislocated left shoulder with the goal of returning for the playoffs.
"My decision for the next two to three weeks is to rehab with the possibility of coming back, but with no guarantee," Wade said. "I'll find out after therapy and rehab how my body responds to things."
Wade was hurt Feb. 21 at Houston. He underwent extensive tests and received a second opinion Friday from specialist Dr. James Andrews before deciding he would try to return.
"The fact there's a possibility would give us hope," coach Pat Riley said. "He's a pretty good player. He probably would be a pretty good player one-armed."
The defending NBA champion Heat, plagued by injuries all season, enter Monday night's game against Atlanta at 29-29 and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
The Heat are 3-2 since Wade was hurt when he collided with Houston's Shane Battier. The All-Star guard tore his labrum, dislocated his shoulder and left the court in a wheelchair.
At the time, his was the league's third-leading scorer, averaging 28.8 points.
Wade said the decision to return was difficult, even though Andrews and team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick supported the idea. Wade said he was told he can't further damage his shoulder by playing, although another dislocation is possible.
"The main thing I can do is feel that same pain again. That's one thing I don't want to feel," he said with a smile.
"It could have been easy for me just to shut it down," Wade said. "You don't know if you're going to be able to attack the same way and dive on the floor the same way. I'll find out after therapy and rehab how my body responds to things."
Wade is still wearing a sling when he sleeps to keep the shoulder stable.
He said he might be able to return for the last couple of regular-season games before the playoffs start April 21. Even if he does come back, he's still expected to have surgery after the season, with the recovery time estimated at four to six months.
Riley said the organization didn't try to influence Wade's decision.
"He's a warrior. He's a soldier. And these are his guys,"
Riley said. "The doctors are world-renowned, and they said he can go forward this way. This is what you do when you're a defending champion. He has made the decision to try to rehab it and hopefully help the team, and he should be admired for that."
Riley said he's confident Wade can alter his slashing, acrobatic playing style as necessary to protect his shoulder.
"He has a tremendous amount of skill and awareness and smarts," Riley said. "Whatever adjustment would have to be made, I think he would make the adjustment and still be pretty effective."
The playoffs start April 21. Even if Wade returns this season, he is still expected to have surgery after the season.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press