Dwyane Wade interview before Finals Game 5
The Miami Heat lead the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1 in the best-of-7 NBA Finals. Game 5 is Thursday night in Miami. Heat guard Dwyane Wade, averaging 23.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 4.4 apg in this year's playoffs, spoke to the media on Wednesday, the day beween games 4 and 5. Here's what he said:
Question: It was six years ago today that you guys won the '06 title. You and Udonis are the only players left from that team. How close are you to Udonis? You've played almost a decade with him. You guys have been through the highs and lows. Just talk about that.
Dwyane Wade: Yeah, man, that's my brother. We've been through so much, obviously on the basketball floor that's been well documented, but off the court. He dealt with personal issues, I've dealt with personal issues, certain situations that we've been there for each other. I would love to play with him for the rest of my career. So you know, I'm just happy that we're both able to be in this moment again six years later, to be in this moment, where we're at, how close we are. It wouldn't feel right if I wasn't a part of it or he wasn't a part of it, because we have come into this franchise and helped change the outlook together.
Question: And what would it mean to win another title with him? There's not a lot of guys who stick around as long as you do and win titles. There's some Laker guys and some Spurs guys, but there's not a lot of teammates on teams that would have possibly multiple titles.
Wade: Yeah, it's that forever bond. Obviously we're going to have that no matter what happens, but if you can add some championships to your résumé, you're going to have the moments. Even though we've played together nine years and we've only one won championship, it's special. We can always go back to that moment. Being in this position again, another Finals, another opportunity, it's special for me and UD, no question about it.
Question: You along with Coach Fizdale have really worked alongside LeBron with his post game as you're developing your post game, as well. He seemed to have one of his most balanced games in the post last night. Where have you seen him improve over the past two years? And has it ever been a frustrating experience adding something, a completely new facet to your game that might not come so naturally?
Wade: Well, I think, to answer the second part, you have to put a lot of work in. If there's something that don't come as natural as his ability to take people off the dribble, let's say, it's a lot of work you've got to put in. No one is afraid of the work, but you've got to go through the trials and tribulations of it, and he's done that. I think the biggest thing for him in the post is now he's became that same playmaker that he was on the perimeter, now he's become that in the post as well as a dominant force. He's only going to continue to get better. This is really the first year that he's really, really got down there, and he's made a huge improvement in one season. You can say it's a lot of different things and reasons why, but the biggest reason is that he wanted to, because he understands that he has an advantage there with his height, his ability to pass, also his ability to score over the top of guys.
Question: You just mentioned the summertime, what was your summer regimen? What did you want to do to make yourself a better player and make the Heat a better team?
Wade: Well, this summer was kind of wild and crazy, and spent a lot of time worrying about whether we were going to have a chance to play basketball. But over the summer I just tried to work on if I could be as strong in this moment. I worked on my body, as much as I could, I tried to work on my body so I could be strong enough to make it all the way through, and be as strong as I can at the end of the season.
As a basketball player you try to continue to work on the parts of your game. For me I worked on a lot of the post because I knew I was going to move down there some this year. So that was one of the things I really focused on and concentrated on was getting in the post more, getting comfortable down there, as well.
Question: Since it was a little unknown how soon the season would start, how soon did you get into it after last season ended?
Wade: You know what, it was getting into it, and then a month of the season has been canceled. Now I've got to take some time off again. So it was back and forth a little bit, and like I said, it wasn't ideal because you don't want to do too much where you burn yourself out too early, because your goal is to play through late June. But you also want to make sure you're in shape, well conditioned whenever the call comes.
It wasn't easy for me because I didn't want to do too much. Like LeBron, he probably got back into it three weeks after the season, he kept playing. Well, I wasn't really playing. I'm at the point where I'm playing a lot of five on five, it was more so just trying to figure out how much I want to work out, how much I want to run and stay in shape, et cetera.
Question: You've had three wins in The Finals obviously once before. Do you recall how long that wait seems after you get that third win and waiting for that next game? And kind of like a second part to that, will you change anything up the next couple days? Do you want people in your house, people out of your house? Do you want to be completely left alone when you get out of here? How will the next 48 hours or so be for you?
Wade: You know, I don't recall, it was so long ago. I was actually trying to think about that, and it's hard to bring back six years ago exactly what we was going through, what we did. It was a little different because we was on the road, so I know some of that was used on a plane traveling.
I have to give credit to my family and my loved ones. They've been great through this whole process. It's not easy to be around us. I'm sure you guys, as well, we're so locked into this, and so much of our time and effort goes to this, we might not give them as much love as they deserve or attention as they deserve. But they've been great. When it's time for me to go into my cave, they let me go into my cave and shut down in a sense, and they understand. So I appreciate that, and hopefully at the end of this you can give them an award, a reward, as well.
Question: Erik all season has been stay in the moment, don't let go of the rope, next game is the most important game. How hard is it to keep that focus when you know what will follow your next victory?
Wade: I don't think it's hard to keep that focus. And the reason I don't think it's hard to keep that focus is because we've been here before in the sense of we had a lead in The Finals. We was up two games to one. We wound up losing The Finals.
So for this team, I think we understand that the moment is the biggest thing. We're excited about the possibility of playing better, doing things better defensively, but also offensively. We don't feel like we've played our best game yet, and we feel that's still to come. I think this team has the right mind state, and I feel like we've had it all season, all year. It's cliché and we might say certain things a lot, but it's even keel around here. We never get too high, we never get too low. We try to always stay in our moment.
Question: Can you take us back to that play, the jump ball situation? Russell Westbrook said there was miscommunication about not knowing that there were five seconds that you would have if you got it. Chalmers said the staff told you guys. Were you aware of it? Were you told?
Wade: Of the five seconds?
Question: That you would have five seconds if you got the ball.
Wade: Yeah, yeah, we was told. I heard it. That was the first I didn't even know that rule. I'm sure a lot of players didn't even know that rule. When we were told, it's like, okay, this is great, this is a bonus for us. But I also knew that it was going to be tough if we got the tip to get a great shot off. Shane did an unbelievable job of making sure that we got the ball. They pretty much had it and Shane came out of nowhere and tipped it, and we got lucky enough where Rio got fouled and was able to go to the line, and put a little more distance in between the game.
Question: Can you explain for a player what it mentally takes, LeBron comes back in the game after he had been cramping, and he took that three pointer position he's not necessarily most comfortable in, clock is going down, that sort of thing? What do you think it was mentally for him to make that shot and make that basket?
Wade: Well, first of all, if you're cramping, that three point shot is the best shot you're going to get, because if you drive to the basket, you're not going to be able to get what you want to get it. It was probably the best look he was going to get. It was a big shot, tie game, and to hit that and give us some kind of breathing room in a sense, and knowing that all we've got to do is worry about our defense and hold onto our defense. But he showed what we know he has, and he showed that heart and that will to do whatever it takes to make sure this team is victorious, and he played a phenomenal game.
Him not being out there the last 55 seconds I'm sure hurt him, but he trusted his teammates, and we was able to help pull it out.
Question: And you guys have talked a lot and been asked, I know, ad nauseam about his mental state and how it's different this Finals. What do you actually see when you're standing next to him in the fourth quarter of these big games, the body language? What's different?
Wade: I don't know, man. I'm not an expert at body language. But I see LeBron James. I see the best and most dominant player in the game. It's good to have that. It's good to know that you have a guy that is going to dominate the game in many different facets. He's just focused, you know, just like the rest of this team. He has a goal, and he wants to reach that goal, and he doesn't want nothing to stand in his way, and he doesn't want himself to stand in his way. He wants to make sure once you leave the game or you leave the series, you can say, I gave it my all. I don't know if we all could have said that last season, and I think this year so far every game we've played to this point or we've won to this point, you walk away and say, you know what, we gave what we had. You can go to sleep a little better at night, even though sleep is a hard nowadays, you can go to sleep a lot better.
Question: In terms of Mario, I'm sure when you came together in the summer of '10 everyone told him not to mess it up because he's got three All Stars and don't make any mistakes. How did he make that transformation from not making mistakes to having the aggression and confidence to help you make plays?
Wade: Well, Mario is a special breed in the sense of, like I said, I joked around yesterday, I said, Mario probably thinks he's the best player on this team. He probably does. He really thinks that. He has that mentality that, you know, I know it's the, quote unquote, Big Three, but I'm here, too.
And even though he doesn't get a lot of shots all the time, he doesn't get none of the attention, he knows how important he is to this ballclub. For him to struggle in the previous games, we've seen it affect him in a sense because he wants to play well. He wants to do well for this team.
And even though he was struggling offensively, he was actually doing some very great things defensively for our team. I think yesterday what we did, we tried to pour that confidence into him in shootaround and let him know, listen, you're doing good things. This is where you could do a couple things better, but we're not in this position without you. I think it gave him some more confidence that Coach gave him some freedom to attack, and he had a hell of a game. Without Mario's performance, today is a different day.