The Big 3 era in Miami was one of the pivotal moments in NBA history over the last two decades. It shaped the legacy of LeBron James, as well as cemented Dwyane Wade as a Hall of Famer. Chris Bosh was the prerunner to today’s modern NBA big man.
But it almost got cut short.
Wade was just 29 years old when James and Bosh arrived in 2010, but his body was already starting to break down. In a recent story by Dan Woike at the Los Angeles Times, Wade said that he almost considered retiring because of the pain he had to deal with on a daily basis coming from both knees.
Via LA Times:
Mornings were nearly unbearable. His knees ached so badly he could barely bend them. Tasks that should be simple, such as putting on his underwear, felt more like climbing Mt. Everest.
Games, when he could get on the court, were just as tough. By the time he got to the locker room afterward, both knees would balloon.
The hurt was too much. The joy was gone. He wanted out. He thought about retiring.
“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.”
Of course Wade was able to tough it out, and thinking about those Heat championship runs without him is a difficult task. As players start to age, or as eras start to pass them by, how we value their contribution seems to shift. Current context get applied when it’s not relevant, and we forget just how effective or powerful players were in their moment.
Dwyane Wade is the Miami Heat, and the Heat are Dwyane Wade. His style may be of a different time, but fans in South Beach are glad he stuck around.