The impossibility of saying a bad word about Dwyane Wade remains.
That Flash could play has been common knowledge for some time now. Same goes for his ability to overcome obstacles. And to carry himself professionally. And to be everything else one could ask for in a basketball star and human being.
Of course, we knew he could play through pain, too. From the "Fall down seven times, get up eight" commercials to the obvious agony throughout last season, it was evident that this man was going to do everything in his power to be on the court all the time.
Little did we know just how much effort that entailed.
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In the latest news out of South Beach, ESPN.com reports that Wade's shoulder injury from last season was far more serious than the Heat and their star let on:
"I don't think anybody realizes how bad this was," Riley told reporters in South Florida. "It was a reverse dislocation, which doesn't happen that much. And he had nerve damage."
Now, Wade's playing with soreness from both the shoulder and knee, as well as a bruised right shoulder, an injured shin and a jammed finger.
"I'm really, really concerned about it -- those are compensation injuries," said Riley, who has tried to limit Wade's minutes. "There have actually been some games when it was actually painful for me to watch him.
"I've just reached a point where I understand this is just how my body is going to feel," Wade said. "It's just how it's going to be, so you just got to toughen up mentally and go forward.
For his part, the man they call Flash remains the consummate professional. This isn't and has never just been about the money or the endorsements or anything else for him. For a man who has admitted a desire to go global, when all is said and done, he still loves the game that has given him the stardom, and he has the attitude (and certainly the game) of a true competitor. Wade is a player, and he wants to play no matter the obstacles. No complaints, no excuses. In an era in which complaining and excusing seem to be the orders of the day, Wade deserves all the commendation possible for his outlook.
Wade is a player to the end, and his job is to come to work to play until told not to for either his own good or for that of his organization.
The job of Pat Riley -- and others in positions of power in Miami -- is to be the one to tell Dwyane Wade no.
As in, "No, Dwyane, no matter how much you love to play, we can't risk the health of our most valuable investment on a team that isn't going anywhere any time soon."
Sure, keeping their star healthy has to be an important part of the Heat's plans, but so must be keeping the $60 million investment's health intact. While keeping the faith should be a factor in Miami, realism needs to be as well. It is becoming clearer than ever that this Heat team is going nowhere fast. And even if they can make a run, not having Wade at full strength will only make it that much tougher to get back to the point they want to be at.
If Flash is really playing in as much pain as it appears he is, the Heat need to match his will and shut him down until he is ready to go. Wade's will to play is admirable, and his understanding that there will come a point when he may need to suck up the pain and accept his physical reality and play through it is even more commendable. But when there is nothing for his team to gain by his playing -- and everything for Wade and Miami to lose courtesy of either an aggravated injury or another compensation injury -- it only makes sense for the man to sit until he feels as close to 100 percent as possible. Even if he were to sit the rest of this quickly-becoming-lost year, the loss this year will pale in comparison to the risks undertaken by keeping him on the court and in pain for games that are fast beginning to mean very little to the boys in black, red and white.
Dwyane Wade is the model star and someone the Heat should be proud to be building around for the foreseeable future.
Which makes him all the more worth the patience in the present.