It’s not what he meant, but it’s how people are going to take it.
Dwyane Wade told reporters Saturday that this Heat team reminds him not of the 2006 championship team, but the 2005 team that lost in the Eastern Conference Finals. From our own Ira Winderman writing at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
“More similarities to maybe our ‘04-05 team, the team that lost in the Eastern Conference finals,” Wade said, “probably more similarities to that team in the standpoint of how close we were as a unit, the way we approached the playoffs.”
Wade wasn’t talking about the results of that team, but about the chemistry and locker room. It’s meant as a positive, to talk about how close they were in terms of chemistry. It’s odd that he would say that, and it comes off so much as a PR statement trying to insinuate that this team is so close. It’s hard to believe that this team would be so close in their first season… until you look at that 2005 team. The first season after the addition of Shaquille O’Neal, when the Heat were still mostly young players built together around O’Neal, who was traded for two big members of the scintillating 2004 team, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, that team was before the Heat brought in key veterans which helped the 2006 team win the championship, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton. That team was simply not deep enough to get over the hump like they did in 2006.
That does sound familiar.
Wade trying to sell the narrative that this team is all buddy-buddy probably won’t fly, but it makes sense. Still, he’s going to make the headline that Wade doesn’t believe this team is built to win a championship. Which is not what he said. That’s how this works. It’s almost like Wade’s just toying with the media.
One final note: The 2005 Miami Heat swept the first two rounds of the playoffs. Probably not a good comparison to make when you haven’t closed out the Sixers yet and the Boston Celtics are (almost certainly) waiting.