The Miami Heat during the Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade era was revered for being one of the modern NBA’s first superteams. Bosh went to Miami on a sign-and-trade, while James joined as a free agent, creating a squad affectionately known as the Big Three. As we learned on Saturday, that trio nearly came to a premature end because of Wade’s lingering knee issues.
Wade, of course, made it a few more years and is going through his retirement tour this season. But as we learned in a new piece by Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, things were brutal for a few years, to the point that Wade would have gave up basketball if it meant he could wake up without knee pain.
“My knees were in so much pain,” Wade said. “In my right knee, I had two sets of different bone bruises. I also had chondromalacia under the kneecap, which irritates the kneecap to the extent where it’s just more pain. In my left knee, I had three surgeries so I’m dealing with arthritis. I’m dealing with swelling and all the stuff that comes with that.
“It was a time where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to be in pain anymore.”
In the four years that the Big Three Heat were together, Wade played in 248 of a potential 328 games, with knee pain being one of the things that kept him on the sidelines sometimes, especially during the group’s final year or two. James recalled watching him as he was physically hurting, and remembered having conversations with Wade towards the end of their run about Flash’s ability to contribute.
“He’d talk about, ‘I don’t know, man. I don’t know if I can continue to do this. I don’t think I can do it,’” James told the LA Times. “I couldn’t say anything other than, ‘Let’s get through this season. Make the most of it.’ But he said, ‘I can’t be the player I want to be and help you the way I want to because I can’t even consistently be on the floor with you.’”
It’s a bit weird to think of Heat basketball without Dwyane Wade, something hoops fans got a taste of during his stints in Chicago and Cleveland. His latest run in Miami will come to an end when he retires at the conclusion of this season, and while he’d be in he Hall of Fame by now, we thankfully didn’t have to see Wade call it a career during the Big Three era.