|Behind the scenes of Wade's offseason workout regimen|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 16 May 2008 11:40|
Finally, he was down to his last shot, a 20-footer from the right side. When it swished, he whooped and shimmied.
``I feel like it's my rookie year all over again,'' Wade said.
In some respects, the All-Star guard who carried the Miami Heat to the 2006 NBA title might be right in that assessment.
Wade is essentially starting over this summer, eager to put two injury-filled seasons behind him. He believes the solution is spending three hours a day, five days a week, putting his body to the limit at a gymnasium in a hardscrabble Chicago neighborhood, a place where he can focus on basketball and nothing else.
There are no fans. No cell phones, no distractions.
And most importantly - for the first time in more than a year, no pain in Wade's surgically repaired left knee, either.
``No pain when I wake up in the morning, no pain when I go home at night,'' Wade said. ``I know I'm on the right track. Been a long time to get there.''
Indeed, it has been a long process, and it's just getting started, too.
He desperately wants to play for the United States in the Beijing Olympics; that team will be selected in about six weeks after a late-June training camp in Las Vegas. And he wants his game razor-sharp for the next NBA season, when the Heat will try to erase memories of a horrid year Wade found both incredibly frustrating and disappointing.
Wade granted The Associated Press access to his workout Friday, a rare look at how he's working toward those goals.
``I want people to know that I'm working and working hard,'' Wade told The AP after the session was over. ``This is what I do. This is what I love to do. I don't want anyone questioning my work ethics.''
No one seeing these sessions would.
Playing with fellow Chicago-area native Quentin Richardson of the New York Knicks, and under the eye of noted trainer Tim Grover - Michael Jordan's personal trainer and the owner of the facility where Wade now works out - Wade began with a series of shooting drills.
After 14 minutes, sweat began saturating his shirt. After 20 minutes, Wade was bent over at the waist, breathing deeply.
But he never stopped, sans for a four-minute break between shooting and the start of weight training.
``He's made a tremendous amount of progress,'' said Grover, who began working with Wade again just two weeks ago. ``He's so focused to get himself ready for these games and also for the season. This is not something that he's doing short-term just to get himself ready for the Olympics.''
More than an hour was spent in the weight room, where Wade and Richardson focused mostly on their legs - Tuesdays and Thursdays are upper-body days. One exercise, on a machine called a runner, was so grueling that both players found themselves straining to survive a mere 60-second interval.
After Wade's second stint on the runner - a machine that trains the lower body by using speed and resistance - he shouted in pain.
``It is as medieval as you can imagine,'' Grover said, smiling.
It's also what Wade needs right now.
Wade's season ended March 10, when Pat Riley announced that it simply didn't make sense to have his franchise player continue trying to fight through physical issues - especially because it'd been clear for weeks that the Heat weren't going to be part of the postseason.
He missed Miami's final 21 games, a stretch where the Heat went 4-17 and wound up matching the worst overall record (15-67) in franchise history.
But the injuries have been a problem for two years. When the Heat won the title, Wade was the most dominant player in the postseason, shredding whatever defense Dallas threw his way as he seemed to almost single-handedly rally Miami from an 0-2 deficit in that series.
He was at his best then. He hasn't really been right since.
A dislocated shoulder, chronic tendinitis in his knee, followed by surgeries to repair both (the one-year anniversary of those procedures was Thursday) ... it's all added up to Wade spending as much time, if not more, in the training room than he's actually been on the floor.
``I think the severity of what he had done was a lot more than what everybody anticipated,'' Grover said.
So he's starting over.
While the facility where the workouts take place is top-notch, replete with state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of courts, the neighborhood isn't glitzy. A couple blocks away from the gym, a homeless man is washing a car parked curbside. There's more than a couple vacant factories and storefronts nearby.
It's decidedly blue-collar, which suits Wade just fine.
``I needed to come back to the place where my focus begins, so I came back home,'' said Wade, whose hometown of Robbins is about a half-hour drive away from Grover's facility. ``I'm more focused on what I need to do ... on all the work I have to do.''
And on Monday morning, that work will begin again.
``Barring anything unexpected, I cannot see him not being 100 percent by the time training camp opens up for the Olympics,'' Grover said.
Wade is even more optimistic.
``Oh, I'll be ready,'' he said.