Wade: Heat's third title 'sweetest by far'

Wade: Heat's third title 'sweetest by far'
June 21, 2013, 12:00 pm
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In Game 7, Dwyane Wade summoned the Wade of old and not just and old Wade.

(AP Photo)

MIAMI — Shane Battier didn't waste any time letting the media know what was on his mind following Miami's 95-88 NBA title-clinching victory over San Antonio.

"Reports of my demise were premature. That's my opening statement," he said.

Battier, who had 18 points off the bench in Miami's Game 7 victory, was speaking of himself.

But he might as well had been talking about Dwyane Wade, because like Battier, Wade appeared to be a shell of himself for most of this series.

However, Wade summoned up the Wade of old - and not just an old Wade - in the last two games to help Miami win the franchise's third NBA title and second in as many seasons.

On Thursday, Wade had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

"They tried to bury Dwyane, but he kept pushing open the coffin door," Battier said. "And that's Dwyane Wade. "You really can't define him by stats. He's a competitor, a fighter. And when it counts most, he'll be there."

Wade and criticism seem to get along quite well considering the two have known one another for a while.

"Everybody has an opinion," Wade said. "In this world we live in today, everyone can use that opinion. But without doubt maybe I'm not here today. So that's fine. As I said many times, my belief is stronger than your doubt. And I'm always going to believe.

Wade added, "when it's a big game, I don't care what I'm going through, No. 3 is going to show up. He's going to do something to help his team win."

And while LeBron James was being praised for yet another NBA Finals MVP effort, he too acknowledged how valuable Wade was in helping the Heat win a second straight NBA title, and third overall with all three championships coming since the Heat drafted Wade in 2003.

"What can you say? He's a three-time champion, gold medalist, Finals MVP," James said of Wade. "He's one of the greatest two-guards, one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. He continues to add to his resume."

And by doing so, Wade continues to bury all his critics.

Of the three titles he has won in Miami, Wade admits this one is the "sweetest by far."

"Because of everything we've been through," Wade said,  adding, "everything I've been through individually and to get here to this moment, to have that kind of performance, that kind of game, help lead my team, it's special, man. So special."

Wade has played through a series of knee-related injuries, well aware that subpar performances would bring about more criticism of his game.

"He should be commended for being out there and doing whatever it takes, putting himself out there for criticism, because he wasn't 100 percent," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "And he just helped us win."

Spoelstra said Wade has a deep bone bruise that will only heal with rest, something Wade plans to get plenty of this offseason.

With the champagne flowing and emotions running high, Wade still took a moment to be by himself, sitting on the floor outside the Heat locker room.

"Just wanted to soak it in," he said. "We go through life so fast, we never really get to enjoy moments. Seems like they go past us. The championships that I've won seemed like they went past me so fast. And tonight I just wanted to take a minute, take a moment and just soak in being a kid from Robbins, Illinois, from Marquette University and now having three championships.

He added, "this is a special moment for this organization. It's a special moment for Miami. And I appreciate so much of what everybody around me does, and the trust and belief that everyone has. So I just wanted to take that moment, soak it in, holler at my boy Larry [Larry O'Brien Trophy which goes to the NBA champion] right here, and just have my own moment."