Thursday night, Dwyane Wade will host a fashion fundraiser in midtown Miami.
While many in that crowd may wonder what he's wearing, basketball fans might be more interested to see how tightly—or loosely—he's wearing it.
After photos were released of a shirtless Wade on the beach with girlfriend Gabrielle Union, which you can view at PopSugar.com, some observed that he had lost weight. That seemed in line with Pat Riley's post-championship request that the Miami Heat guard drop about a dozen pounds to take pressure off his sore knees.
Yet don't count Tim Grover among those counting pounds.
Grover has been Wade's on-again, off-again trainer in recent years, most successfully working with him during the summer of 2008, prior to Wade's spectacular comeback season of 2008-09. He's been "on" again with Wade this summer, and communicating regularly with Heat officials.
"For Dwyane, weight loss is a by-product of his program, not the focus of the program," said Grover, the author of Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, which chronicles his work with Wade, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. "It's not about the number on the scale, it's about how that number is distributed so he can perform at his maximum ability. I don't want a skinny athlete; I want a fit, explosive athlete."
So do the Heat. In fact, they need one, in order to win a third straight championship. Wade is turning 32 in January.
He has missed 30 of 148 regular-season games the past two years, and he has ached and limped to the finish of each of those postseasons.
He has a 38-year-old behind him in Ray Allen, and the Heat's former trusty emergency starter, Mike Miller, will be letting it fly with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Heat need the nine-time All-Star to more often resemble the old Wade than an old Wade. They need him on the floor, and then in the air, deep into spring—regardless of how his uniform top fits.
"I know the players love showing their upper bodies when they put on the jerseys, because those are the muscles you can see, but I put more emphasis on the legs and the entire core, because that’s what gets you to June," Grover said.
"And when I talk about the core, I don't just mean abs, I mean everything from right below the chest to the top of the knees—that's where you generate most of your power. So while everyone is looking at the upper body, I'm focusing on everything else. What's the first thing people say as an athlete ages and slows down? 'He doesn't have his legs anymore.' So we address that by putting the work into the muscles that have a tendency to break down over time."
That work will ultimately be measured by how freely and dynamically Wade plays, several months down the line.
"Dwyane's workouts have been outstanding," Grover said. "He's done everything we've asked of him, and we have asked a lot."
Nor should Wade's ongoing motivation be an issue, after Durant said James Harden should replace him in Sports Illustrated's NBA top-10 list, and Wade followed by sending out a photo of "a note to self" to prove him wrong.
Wednesday morning, Grover offered his thoughts about that, too, on Twitter:
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