Advertisement

Dwyane Wade is the foundation of Miami’s success

Reporting from Dallas

The story goes that Shaquille O’Neal took Dwyane Wade for a car ride during the 2006 NBA Finals and taught him a few important lessons.

An intervention it was not. More like an invitation to better himself on the court.

Wade struggled through the first two games of the Finals that year against the Dallas Mavericks, so O’Neal made a point of stopping by his house to pick him up, drive him around town a bit and calm his nerves. Another veteran, Alonzo Mourning, was also reportedly there.

Advertisement

Miami won the next four games and earned its first championship.

These days, Wade doesn’t need a pep talk from the older guys. He is the old, wise one … and he’s only 29.

He has been unstoppable in the present-day Finals, averaging 29 points, 8.7 rebounds and five assists against Dallas. He is shooting 56.7% and, on the defensive end, averaging almost two blocked shots a game.

While teammate LeBron James has struggled in crunch time, averaging three points in the fourth quarter through three games of the Finals, Wade has been Miami’s rock.

Advertisement

Wade scored seven points in a row down the stretch in Game 3, allowing Miami to take a 2-1 series lead. Almost everyone from the two teams talked about him leading up to Game 4 on Tuesday.

“He has the ultimate respect of everybody in the locker room,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. “He’s done that from the very first day of training camp as the captain and as the leader, the guy who can set the tone of what our franchise stands for as a first-class championship organization. And he’s been able to sustain that all year.

“He leads with his example, but more so, the last couple of years, he’s been doing it with his voice. And I think the guys really respond to that. He’s proved time and time again in the biggest moments when he’s at his best, and that’s not only just on his play on the court, but where the guys can see his sense of urgency.”

In some ways, that “sense of urgency” is a polite synonym for “yells at teammates.”

Advertisement

Wade isn’t shy about opening his mouth, being particularly hard on young guard Mario Chalmers, who lost his starting job this season but remains an important backup.

“I don’t really look at it scolding guys,” Wade said. “I try to look at it as just the moment of expressing myself. Obviously, whether it’s me or LeBron, it probably gets overblown a little bit at times. We all stay on each other. We wouldn’t be the team we are if we didn’t, if we weren’t able to be on each other and be able to tell the truth about what we feel at that moment.”

The yelling is fine with forward Chris Bosh.

Bosh never played past the first round of the playoffs in seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors. The less-heralded part of the Heat’s Big Three is two games away from a championship.

Advertisement

“He’s a very passionate guy,” Bosh said of Wade. “Once he gets going, he’s in the moment. He’ll surprise you sometimes. He wants to win, and we all want to win at the same time. So any time he’s going to voice his opinion, he’s right.”

Haywood injury update

Dallas reserve center Brendan Haywood is a game-time decision Tuesday after sitting out Game 3 because of a strained right hip.

He went through shooting drills Monday, though Coach Rick Carlisle wouldn’t confirm whether Haywood would play.

Advertisement

The Mavericks’ interior defense took a step back without Haywood. His replacement, Ian Mahinmi, had five fouls in eight minutes in Game 3.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan


Advertisement