WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
After losing here on Monday and watching Chris Bosh score 31 points and Dwyane Wade 27, Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel mentioned how the Heat has “two All-Stars that seem rejuvenated.”
During introspective late-night conversations on Monday, Wade and Bosh cited two driving forces behind that: health and the residual benefit of the longest summer of their Heat tenures, with Bosh noting that the human body is simply “not going to hold up” playing into June year after year, uninterrupted.
Wade’s decision to change trainers (from Tim Grover to Dave Alexander) and adjust his offseason workout routine clearly has paid dividends.
He hasn’t missed any games due to injury (missing only one because one of his sons was hospitalized) after sitting out 17, 13, 28 and 20 the past four seasons.
“I felt it was time for me,” Wade said late Monday of his offseason change. “Last year, I was disappointed I had two hamstring injuries that took me out of 14 of the 20 games I missed because I thought I was making the strides I wanted to make.
“I never had hamstring injuries and I was wondering: Why am I having these problems? I know the body all works together. If I’m having hamstring injuries, it’s because of something else. I sought out to find the information. I was able to do that with Dave, who really took a look at my body and was able to see what my strengths and my weaknesses are.
“The first month of the summer, that’s all I focused on --- to strengthen certain areas that were weak before I got into real training. I learned a few things.”
That was followed by a “lot of power and explosion work… I got fit.”
Parting ways with Grover “was very tough,” Wade said. “But I have to make a lot of tough decisions because it’s my life. Obviously, he wanted to continue to work with me. But he also understood I wanted to go in this direction and he was great about it. It wasn’t easy to have that conversation with him because he’s been in my life since my rookie year.
“I felt this was what I needed to do. I am not just saying Dave was the key. There are a lot of things that go into it. But I could tell I needed something a little different, coming off the last couple years, a little different kind of focus.”
The work on his body didn’t stop in the summer.
Nearly every day, Wade spends a “lot” of time getting himself right, before even picking up a basketball.
“I do a lot of stretching and activating of my muscles, practically every day, because I want to make sure everything is turned on and everything is working,” he said. “Chris does the same thing every day, making sure we activate the hips, activate the glutes, make sure we turn things on. You play all these games; you would be amazed how things are shut down…. Very rare I take a day off and do absolutely nothing.”
Wade turns 34 on Jan. 17. When was the last time he felt confident enough in his body to attempt anything like the contorting, one-handed dunk off a Goran Dragic alley-oop on Monday, the one that electrified the building?
“I had a moment in the 27-game winning streak [in March of 2013] I was feeling great,” he said. “The [knee bruise] then hit me in Boston. After that, it was all downhill from there.”
Though he hasn’t set a number of games as a specific goal, he said his mentality is to play through discomfort “if I’m not going to hurt myself any more and I can go. There are times you’re going to play hurt.”
Beyond the change in offseason approach, the 5 1/2 month offseason also helped.
“You’ve all heard the saying, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ It did happen for a reason. I’m not saying Chris needs to get blood clots to get rest. I’m not saying that at all. Everything that happened last year, it seemed like nothing went right for us.
"Once we knew we weren’t winning the championship, I didn’t really care about making it to the first round [last season] just to say we made it to the first round. I ain't going to lie to you. I was happy. I enjoyed knowing I was going to have a long summer to focus on my body. It was good for us.”
Meanwhile, Bosh, 31, said he also feels re-energized; he has scored 20 or more in eight of Miami’s last nine games and is averaging his most rebounds (8.1) since his first year with the Heat. Even before the blood clots in his lungs last year, he was discouraged.
“I was playing with a lot of pain last year,” he said Monday night. “My wife and I were talking about it. She was like, ‘Do you remember that?’ I was talking about retiring. I was all over the place. It was the calf, mental things, regular pain,… could have been exhaustion. I was like, ‘I don’t know how much long I’ve got.’ And you’re like, ‘You’re only 30.’”
But after the frightening ordeal with the blood clots, “I said, 'This athlete thing isn’t that bad.' My threshold has gotten a little higher, mentally and physically.”
And, as Wade said of himself and Bosh: “You can see a difference in us. We had a long summer, but that long summer really helped us regroup.”
### According to an associate, the Dolphins haven’t shown interest in interviewing Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula about their coaching job, even though he guided the NFL's highest-scoring offense and even though his father is legendary coach Don Shula.
But a Shula associate said he doesn't want to interview for any other job before the Panthers season ends.
### By simple restructurings, the Dolphins can lower Ndamukong Suh’s 2016 cap number from $28.6 million to $10.4 million and Ryan Tannehill’s from $11.6 million to $4.7 million.
But Miami’s preference, heading into the offseason, is to do that with only one of the two so as not to add to the Dolphins’ cap burden down the road. Re-doing Suh would clearly be more helpful.
### Though Stacy Coley and Al-Quadin Muhammad haven’t announced their plans, the NFL’s Draft Advisory Board said neither would be picked in the first two rounds. UM received other NFL feedback that Coley would be a third-day pick and said that Muhammad potentially might not even be drafted. [Update: AQM said on Instagram that he's returning to UM next season.]
### Before he took the tight ends job at Tennessee, the new job Larry Scott was offered at UM was receivers coach, not tight ends coach, according to an associate. Incumbent receivers coach Kevin Beard said tonight that he hasn’t been told his fate. He interviewed with Mark Richt last week.
### More evidence of how UM’s boost in coaching salaries is helping: New offensive line coach Stacy Searels was ready to join Georgia Tech when UM swooped in with a larger offer.
### Elite quarterback recruit Jack Allison, who has hit it off with Richt, will enroll Monday. Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and defensive end Patrick Bethel are also hoping to be early enrollees.
### The Panthers --- now winners of 10 in a row after tonight's 5-1 victory in Buffalo --- have allowed the fewest goals per game in the league, and any concern about acquiring the last eight years of Roberto Luongo’s 12-year, $64 million contract have evaporated. Here’s why:
Not only is he playing great at age 36 (he’s seventh in goals against average at a career-best 2.09), but his salary drops considerably in two years.
He’s owed $6.7 this season and the next two, but $3.38 million, $1.6 million and $1 million and $1 million in his final four.
"It’s a great contract,” Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu said. “Vancouver is paying 15 percent of it every remaining year. He’s a winner, in great shape, trains 12 months a year, hasn’t had a major injury. I hope he plays to 45.”
Luongo's win tonight was his eighth in a row, equaling the longest of his career. He already has set the Panthers' record for most consecutive wins by a goaltender.