LONDON (AP) -An Olympic gold medal hasn't erased Dwyane Wade's painful memories of last season.
Wade may have been one of the best players in Beijing, but he knows it will take more than that to silence the many critics in Miami after the Heat posted the NBA's worst record last year.
``The Olympics just hushed people,'' Wade said ahead of Sunday's preseason game against the New Jersey Nets in London. ``It just quieted them down for a little while. It didn't shut anyone up.''
So going into this season, Wade has taken the gold medal off his neck and embraced a new mission.
``My team was 15-67 last year,'' Wade said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``Of course I'm going to always have fun and enjoy the game, but at the same time you have to play with a chip on your shoulder. And I feel everyone in the locker room should play with a chip on their shoulder, because we have something to prove.''
ruined by injuries.
``It was more important than anyone knows, just for your overall confidence,'' Wade said. ``Once I got there (to Beijing) and started playing against, and with, the best players in the world and succeeding, it makes you understand and know that, OK, I'm back.''
The Heat's rookie coach, Erik Spoelstra, is using the trip - part of the NBA's ongoing efforts to increase its fan base overseas - as a team-building exercise, throwing in mandatory sightseeing trips in-between practices and games. The trip to Paris included a team photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, while the players were taken straight to the Houses of Parliament for another picture after arriving in London.
For a young, inexperienced team that is still trying to find its identity under Spoelstra, Wade expects the trip to pay off.
``It builds togetherness,'' he said. ``That can help a lot on the court, where you care for each other more and you want to do more things for each other. ... We're a better team already than last season. We have a lot of young guys that have good potential. My thing is to help that process speed up faster.''
Whatever improvements the Heat have made, it's still not showing up in the win column. After going 0-7 in last year's preseason, the team lost this year's opener to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday before falling 100-98 in overtime against the Nets in Paris.
They get another shot Sunday at London's O2 Arena, but Wade isn't worried about the result, pointing out that Spoelstra chose to play with young substitutes toward the end of Thursday's game.
``We understand that if ... we really wanted to get that 'W,' Coach would have put the starting lineup back in and played the veteran guys a little longer at the end,'' he said. ``But his main thing is that we try to make sure our young guys grow.''
And Miami fans have reason to be optimistic about the performance of Michael Beasley, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft. He tied Wade with a team-high 21 points against the Nets.
``He's just one of those natural scorers, where it seems like it takes no effort to do,'' Wade said. ``He's only 19 years old, so once he learns the game and gets a feel for it, he's going to be even better. I'm going to make him better, and he's going to make me better. And that's going to make our team better.''
Still, most of the weight still rests on Wade's shoulders to make sure the team doesn't spend another year in the basement.
``Dwyane is the focal point of their team,'' said former NBA star Darryl Dawkins, who was helping the league run a clinic for local youth on a temporary court in South London on Friday. ``By him playing, (it) makes everybody better. He can carry a team, and he will have to carry a team this year.''
Wade has done it before and knows he can do it again. He also knows how quickly a team can go from one of the worst to one of the best in the league, after watching the Boston Celtics make the transformation last year.
``Once you see that something is done, it makes it easier for you to have the vision that it can be done again,'' Wade said. ``Of course, they did it unbelievably, not only did they have a quick turnaround, they won a championship. I think after the season we had last year, we won 15 games, it's not going to be difficult to have a quick turnaround.''

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