|With losses still piling, Wade and Heat at loss for answers|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 March 2008 15:43|
His Miami Heat have the worst record in the NBA, 11-47. His locker room is often a frustrated, miserable place. His surgically repaired left knee is constantly sore and tender. And his offseason will be busy, filled with playing responsibilities for the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team.
Given all that, the easiest thing for Wade right now might be to declare his season over, a notion he's been asked about countless times in the last few weeks. Take time off, rest up, rehab as necessary and be at full strength for the Olympics and next season with the Heat.
But for some reason, Wade doesn't seem to like that plan one iota.
Even though all hope of the playoffs is gone, and even as coach Pat Riley considers a brief break from on-court responsibilities to go scout NCAA conference tournaments next week in hopes of the next great draft pick - like Wade was five years ago - the 2006 NBA finals MVP will be on the floor Friday night when the Heat host the Golden State Warriors.
``I don't want to cut my minutes back,'' Wade said. ``If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. And whenever that day is, if it comes, I'll just start preparing for the summer and rehabbing. But the day is not today.''
So count him among the guys who seem to get what Riley is selling.
In lieu of actual practice Thursday, Riley met individually with players to detail exactly what is expected from them over the season's final 24 games. Riley railed away on his team after Wednesday's 108-83 loss to Toronto, even saying that he should personally write season-ticket holders refund checks and calling Miami's effort ``unprofessional.''
His mood, as expected, was much cooler and calmer the following day.
``When you don't have anything to play for, except your professional pride and your dignity and (taking) power in who you are and your reputation, that's it. That's what you're playing for,'' Riley said. ``It's a job. It's about professionalism. But that ain't the way it is in professional sports anymore.''
It's an uncertain time for many Heat players. Point guard Jason Williams - who wants to come back to Miami - and forward Ricky Davis have expiring contracts. Several young players, like Chris Quinn, are unsure about what next season will bring. Even Dorell Wright, who came to the Heat as a prep-schooler four years ago, will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Muddled futures and miserable losses, like the one in Sacramento on Sunday when Miami wasted a 23-point second-half lead, are not a good combination.
``I don't think it's explainable,'' said Williams, who thought his meeting with Riley went well. ``We play a perfect first half at Sacramento, and we've struggled in the couple games since. Can't explain it. But we've got to keep plugging away, man. Go out, play hard, do it for each other. Can't do it for anyone else.''
Wade feels the same way.
He didn't necessarily mind when Riley ranted after Wednesday's loss, and wasn't thrown by the idea of Riley possibly missing a game or two to scout college talent, especially since the Heat will likely have a great chance of ending up with the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
He just wants things to get better - be it this week, next month or next season.
And that's why he isn't quitting on his team.
``Even though we're losing, I still enjoy suiting up and going out there and playing the game,'' Wade said. ``I still go out there and approach every game like I'm going to help my team win. There comes a time when you've got to be smart about your situation also, but it's never been my personality to quit on anything or give up on anything.''