Dwayne Wade shouldn't be a member of the 2012 U.S. Men's Basketball Team at the Summer Olympics in London.
In a perfect world, the man formerly known as Flash would once again take on the role of sixth-man off the bench for the Americans, a role he thrived in at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Unfortunately, as we all know, none of us live in a perfect world, something that has become painfully clear to Wade, who has been dealing with a lingering knee injury throughout the end of the NBA regular season and into the playoffs.
Before Game 4 against Indiana, where Wade erupted for 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, he clearly had not been himself, only scoring 5 points in Game 3, while shooting 2-13 from the field. It's obvious to anyone that has watched Wade throughout these playoffs that he is far from 100 percent healthy. For the majority of the playoffs, he has lacked both the explosiveness to get to the rim and the lift on his jump shot. On May 21st, everyone's suspicions were confirmed when it was reported that Wade had had fluid drained from his balky left knee.
Even if Wade is able to maintain the form he showed in Game 4 throughout the remainder of the playoffs, he still should skip the Olympics for the sake of the remainder of his career. This compacted season has clearly taken its toll on Wade, who has been unable to stay healthy throughout the lockout shortened season along with many other notable NBA players including, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, and Chris Bosh. The Heat's star shooting guard needs this offseason more than any other to stay away from competitive basketball and get his body back to 100 percent health in preparation for next season.
Wade had previously said that this Olympic games would be his last, but his body simply cannot afford that. If Wade does not allow his body this offseason to heal, it could have lingering effects for the rest of his career. Many analysts have wondered when D-Wade's reckless style of play would catch up with him, and it appears it finally has. Wade is no longer a spring chicken at the age of 30, and his body is clearly just not healing like it once was.
If Wade hadn't already won a gold medal, then it would be harder to make the case that he shouldn't go to the London Olympics. But Wade has been there done that. In 2008 he captured his first gold medal in Beijing, while leading the team in scoring. In 2004, he won a bronze medal in Athens. Wade has shown brightly in the international spotlight more than once, and he has nothing left to prove on that stage.
Unlike the injury to Dwight Howard, the loss of Wade doesn't affect the Americans as much because they possess a plethora of wing scorers to fill Wade's shoes. With or without Wade, the U.S. will still be the favorites to win the gold medal because they can still role out Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, et al. Need I say more? Wade should step aside, not only for his health, but also so that someone like James Harden can experience what it's like to play on that stage.
For Team USA, there couldn't be a better fit to replace Wade than Harden. Not only does Harden play the same role for Oklahoma City that Wade filled for Team USA, Harden has a similar game to Wade in that he can create his own shot and is able to score almost at will. The Thunder's sixth man of the year would also have the hunger to win his first gold medal and could be a spark coming off the bench for the Americans.
With that said, then, Wade won't have to feel guilty about missing the Olympics. Although he has felt pressure from some of his peers to commit to the London Games, Wade can rest assured that Harden would fill his role admirably. What's important for D-Wade is that he give his body the time to rest and recover that it sorely needs in order for him to keep playing at the level he is accustomed to for the remainder of his career. Playing in this Olympic games, after already playing in a compacted season, would seriously jeopardize the remainder of Wade's NBA career.
If Wade does decide to play in this Olympics, no one could blame him for wanting to play for his country one last time. In all likelihood, D-Wade would probably earn his second gold medal.
The question that Wade will have to ask himself is: is it worth it?
It will be hard for him to sit out because the 2012 Olympics will be the last time this generation's dream team of Wade, James, Bryant, and Anthony will ever play together. On the other hand, he must seriously consider missing the summer tournament for the sake of his health.
The last time he was asked about it, Wade said he would make the decision based upon his health. If that's the case, we've likely seen the last of Flash in a Team USA jersey. For those that want to see Wade in London, that will be a disappointment.
And, yet, for Wade's NBA career, it will probably be for the best.