MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat shows off his championship t-shirt as he rides in a victory parade through the streets during a celebration for the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat on June 25, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Heat beat the Oklahoma Thunder to win the NBA title. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade needs surgery on his left knee and will miss the London Olympics.
The Miami Heat guard called USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski on Thursday and let them know that he is not healthy enough to participate in the Olympics. Wade was playing through pain for much of the postseason, yet still averaged 22.6 points during Miami's five-game win over Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.
"I've decided to listen to my doctors and get the procedure I need on my knee," Wade told The Associated Press on Thursday. "USA Basketball said I had to what was best for me. They want me to be obviously as healthy as possible so I can continue to play this game at a high level. They were very supportive and told me if I ever want to come around the team, I'm welcome and that I'm part of the family."
Wade was the leading scorer on the team that won Olympic gold in Beijing four years ago. He also played for the U.S. on the squad that won bronze at Athens in 2004.
His status for the Olympics had been in question for months. In May, he said that even though his Olympic teammates had been prodding him ("Kobe [Bryant] was like, 'if my old self is playing, you can,'" he said), his balky knee might need attention over the offseason.
"This is about being healthy," he said then, "going into the summer healthy -- and taking it from there." On Friday, after the Heat had clinched its NBA title, Wade said, "I think some kind of cleanup process might have to go on."
That is how he described the procedure on Thursday. Barring any complications, he will only need crutches for a day or so after the surgery. Wade says he expects to be ready to play again by the time the Heat open training camp in the fall.
Heat fans may be disappointed that they will not see all members of the team's Big Three try to defend Team USA's gold medal this summer, but after watching Wade struggle for extended stretches during the playoffs, they will be happy in the long run. Wade seemed to have lost some of his explosiveness during the playoffs, making it more difficult for him to drive to the hoop and create uncontested shot attempts.
Wade's per-game scoring and rebounding averages dropped off significantly in 2011/12, and his knee troubles undoubtedly were at least partly to blame. After scoring 25.5 points with 6.4 rebounds per game the previous year, he tallied 22.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season.
Wade could have put off surgery until after the Olympics, but that would have jeopardized his chances at returning to action in time for the start of the 2012/13 season. In the week since the NBA Finals concluded, Wade has discussed working with a shooting coach to extend his range. That plan will likely be put on hold while he rehabilitates.
"I'm happy that I can focus on my body a little bit," Wade said. "I'm not happy to get surgery, but I'm happy that I can focus on getting better."