MIAMI (AP) -Dwyane Wade was the undisputed star of last season's NBA finals.
These days, the Miami Heat guard is thankful to simply be walking without pain.
Three weeks removed from surgeries to repair his left knee and left shoulder, Wade said Tuesday he expects a smooth recovery from both procedures, yet still isn't sure if he'll be ready for training camp in October. He began rehabbing the knee two weeks ago and starts shoulder exercises next week.
``I'm a hard worker. I know I'm going to do everything that they tell me to do to get back to the point I need to be back to,'' said Wade, last season's finals MVP after averaging 34.7 points in the series for Miami against the Dallas Mavericks. ``I was never worried about that. That comes with the territory of playing sports. You're going to have to have surgery to get yourself back.''
Grueling hours of rehab represents something much different from the excitement he and the Heat had this time last year on their march to an NBA crown. With Cleveland and San Antonio in this year's title series, Wade is merely an interested observer - but already has high hopes for 2008, telling season-ticket holders the Heat will be ``new and improved ... and refocused'' next season.
Wade took some time to decide which procedures to have; he originally wasn't sure if he needed the shoulder surgery after rehabbing the joint for six weeks following the dislocation in February. Ultimately, he said getting the shoulder and knee done at once was the most logical move.
``I'm glad I got both of them out of the way and got them done, so I'm on a faster pace to recovery,'' Wade said.
He was bedridden for five days after the surgery, barely able to move. Already, though, he can drive and walk, getting around without much difficulty.
``No crutches for me,'' said Wade, who averaged 27.4 points in 51 regular-season games this season for the Heat, who were swept out of the first round of this year's playoffs by the Chicago Bulls. ``I'm tougher than that.''
It's already been a busy offseason for Wade, with the surgeries and last week's birth of his second son, Zion. On Thursday, instead of being in the finals spotlight as he hoped, he'll be in New York and feted alongside the likes of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine and wrestling star Hulk Hogan as winners of the ``Father of the Year'' award, presented by the National Father's Day Committee.
The rest of his summer plans include rehabbing in Miami and Chicago, taking his wife on vacation and spending time with his USA Basketball teammates in Las Vegas - as a cheerleader, not a player - as they continue trying to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
``I want us to be the best, again, in the world and I will be there in 2008,'' Wade said. ``I'm going to go out there, see them practice and play and support my team.''
Notes: Wade said he's happy that his former Heat coach, Stan Van Gundy, is being mentioned as a candidate to return to the NBA sidelines, either in Orlando or Sacramento. ``You'd love to see coach back into the mix,'' Wade said. ... Wade has talked with Pat Riley multiple times this offseason, but not about whether Riley plans to return as coach of the Heat. Miami center Shaquille O'Neal said last week he's confident that Riley, who wasn't available for comment Tuesday, will be back.

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