Wade needs rest more than Heat needs wins

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Player-turned-broadcaster Reggie Miller dove into the Dwyane Wade issue and inadvertently struck a chord with Miami's franchise player, who embodies the label like no other in the me-first NBA.

It's no secret to anyone who watches Wade that the former NBA final MVP is playing hurt at a time when the Heat has nothing much to play for, except for continued ping-pong balls for the June lottery.

Coming off sub-20-point games for the first time this season, Miller used his TV platform on TNT to suggest Wade was 60% of his former self.

"Tell Reggie to meet me at the gym in Miami and see what percentage I am," Wade retorted when informed of Miller's remarks. "We'll go from there. I'm not 100 (%), but I'm not 60."

Surgeries to his knee and shoulder during the off-season have hampered Wade, whose style of attacking the basket and sacrificing his body against bigger opponents have taken their toll.

There's a belief in South Florida that Wade should be shut down for the rest of the season.

At his best, Wade is among the NBA's elite, in a class with LeBron and Kobe.

Much like the Raptors are doing with their own franchise player in Chris Bosh, rest is being prescribed for Wade, no matter how many games are lost in the standings.

Wade, Bosh and King James are heralded classmates of the 2003 draft, players who define their franchises and assets who must be preserved.

Even as Wade adjusts to playing with new teammate Shawn Marion, the time might be right to tell him not to play, not risk further punishment.

"If this thing gets further away from us, then I think it would be prudent to say: 'We've got to take care of our best asset,''' Heat coach Pat Riley said.

Yao Ming provides a case study in the perils of playing too much.

Wade has played a lot in the past two years and the effects are obvious, the toll even greater because the ball is in Wade's hands on virtually every possession.

"If I'm going to play, I'm going to play,'' Wade insists. "I'm not going to come out and play 20-minute games.

"I want to play my 35, 40 minutes a night and try to help my team win. It's not my job to look at the draft and what position we're in.

"My teammates told me as I go, they go. They follow my lead so I have to come out here and have them follow my lead the right way."

It's a noble trait from a genuine person such as Wade, but as Miami moves forward and further away from the Shaquille O'Neal era, its most important piece must be protected.

That is why the Heat should shut down Wade.

"I am a gamer and a player,'' Wade said as he and the Heat get set to play host to the Raptors tonight.

"Everyone knows where I am at. I am not 100%, but I want to be on the court and help my team win ball games."

KNICK OF TIME

Imagine a sporting world where an employee gets paid $180,000 US not to play. Welcome to Stephon Marbury's world.

Besieged Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who acquired the once-talented, but troubled point guard, told Starbury to stay away from home games, triggering a controversy that has festered for months.

Marbury has one year and $22 million left on his deal that pays him roughly $180,000 per game.

The whole thing is a mess, one of many Thomas and the Knicks have been forced to deal with on a team that has redefined dysfunction.

Cries of fire Isiah grow louder at MSG, where a shakeup is as inevitable as it is unavoidable.

On a team where money runs deep and seemingly without any budgetary limits, the Knicks can rid themselves of the Marbury headache with a simple buy out.


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