Basking in the afterglow of a second straight NBA title, Dwyane Wade has finally come clean about the knee problems that turned him into a shell of himself for much of the Miami Heat's championship run.
And it turns out he was seriously hurting.
According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), Wade had his left knee drained before Game 7 and required eight hours of therapy in order to play in the decisive contest.
Eight hours of anything sounds like a lot, but therapy on an excruciatingly painful knee that had just been drained sounds particularly awful.
Remember, though, Wade's left knee was in pretty good shape until Game 6 when he banged it against Manu Ginobili's knee in the first quarter. Up to that point, it was Wade's right knee that was the real issue.
One of the enduring images of the 2013 playoffs was Wade adjusting the piece of tape that covered his right knee on the sidelines. He explained the unsettling reason for the practice, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
"I'm taping it. When you have a [bone] bruise, you try to move the kneecap over so it won't rub. When you get into game sweat you have to re-tape it a bit."
Moving the kneecap over, even if that's just athlete/trainer jargon, is not a reassuring revelation.
But the draining, taping and intensive therapy were all just part of Wade's playoff routine. The truth is that he had been having trouble before the postseason even started, according to the Associated Press:
Wade also received platelet-rich plasma therapy late in the regular season to combat three bone bruises around his right knee, which was his biggest source of frustration and pain during the playoffs. Wade said two of the bruises healed, but a third—directly under the kneecap—remained a big problem, especially since that area was also affected by tendinitis.
When things looked bleakest, Wade admitted to asking coach Erik Spoelstra for a diminished role. Apparently, the media wasn't alone in wondering whether the Heat were better off with Wade on the bench.
Now that everyone's aware of the severity of Wade's struggles, his performances don't seem so bad. In fact, he probably deserves praise for even trying to play.
All's well that ends well, though, and Wade has the luxury of trying whatever new experimental knee treatments he wants over the summer.
Champagne, huh? Well, it couldn't hurt.