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Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili and paths linked

Jun 16, 2014, 9:12 AM EST

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

Is this really how a great career ends?

The once-star guard looked like a shell of himself. He had one really good game in the NBA Finals, but overall, he shot inefficiently from his best areas, failed to protect the ball and defended poorly. Worst of all, at his age, there’s often no coming back from that type of slippage.

Manu Ginobili did it, though.

Can Dwyane Wade?

The shooting guards have taken turns with depressing Finals, Ginobili last year and Wade this year. But, somehow, Ginobili – at age 36 – shook off blowing a 3-2 series lead last season.

“Every team we lost, it was so painful, because we always felt that we had a shot,” Ginobili said. “Well, you all saw what happened last year. And that was especially painful.

“We had it. I think I touched it. I don’t know if I dreamed it, but I thought I had it. And it was a very tough summer.”

Heartbroken, Ginobili considered retirement, but he ultimately re-signed with San Antonio, continued evolving and once again became one of the NBA’s best sixth men.

And he became mentally stronger.

Right after the Spurs fell behind 22-6 in last night’s Game 5 clincher, Ginobili converted a three-point play. On the ensuing defensive possession, he got tangled with Shane Battier, who fell to the court. Battier appeared to grab Ginobili’s leg and bring him down, too.

Ginobili got up, holding his back and looking ticked.

On the other side of the court, Ginobili drilled a 3-pointer. He still looked just as ticked.

When is the last time Wade showed such intense focus?

Winning makes players content, and it takes deliberate concentration to counteract that already-present satisfaction. Ginobili and Wade have won a championship the year after every one of their Finals losses – the Spurs this year and the Heat in 2012 after falling to the Mavericks in 2011. These are both competitors who don’t give up.

But as crazy as it sounds – and hindsight certainly plays a part – Wade, four years younger than Ginobili, might face a more difficult road back to prominence.

The Heat guard’s knee could prevent him from playing at a star level consistently again – unless Miami takes drastic steps.

Wade rested throughout the year, playing his fewest minutes per game of his career (32.9) and sitting out many games completely. He played well throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and appeared ready for the Finals.

But as much as he insists health played no factor, Wade appeared to lose a half step in these last five games.

Even a reduced regular season with four rounds in the postseason might be too much for him at this point. Wade played 1,775 minutes this season – still more than Ginobili any of the last three seasons.

Gregg Popovich takes resting his top players to an extreme, and it paid off in another title. What works for Ginobili won’t necessarily work for Wade, but at this point, it might be worth trying.

Can Wade become the next Ginobili?

Seems silly to ask that about a player a few years older than the Heat star, but coming off a crushing Finals loss, there’s no better role model for Wade.

Wade can develop his game. He can get even more patient with resting. He can return and play with more passion than ever.

He just must hope his knee will let him.

  1. gpatrick15 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    He’d have to check his ego at the door to even consider such a path.

    • nflcrimerankingscom - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Wade’s game relies on athleticism (amazing athleticism and coordination by the way). Once it’s gone, he just won’t be able to make the same % of difficult shots he took years ago. It’s already starting to happen.

    • theromeo2k - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Ego? We’re talking about one of the greatest leaders in sports right here bro. Yup, that’s D. Wade. The same guy who sacrificed being the first option on his OWN team for the good of the TEAM.

  2. rrhoe - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Sounds like all the more reason for Wade to opt in regarding his contract,put your pride to the side dude,he is not in the same position as LeBron,his max contract days are over.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Wade hasn’t been on a max contract these past four years…

      D Wade made a few peanuts LESS than Bosh did each of the past four years too…

      D Wade COULDN’T take a max deal and neither could Bosh or LBJ when they all signed with the Heat.

      I don’t think Wade is looking for a max contract in the future either…

  3. hwatt - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Pop is able to rest his older players, but they have the young guns to back them up with so many players ending up in double digits. The Spurs’ Old 3 didn’t really have to do any incredible heroics for the team to win since the young guns got plenty of run through the whole year.

    The Heat’s Big 3 are no longer playing really big, but they have nobody them to back them up. *stares at Mario*. But certainly I agree turning Wade into their 6th man is now required. Will be interesting to see if/how the heat are able to encourage everyone else on the roster to truly ‘folow Lebron’s lead’ and play ball like LeBron always wanted them to.

  4. m4a188 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Sounds like Wade will be exercising his player option with the Heat.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      No way anyone is dumb enough to give him over 15 million a year.

  5. unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Wade will opt in and the Heat will suffer for it. He was a great, albeit very dirty player once upon a time. But he’s old (in basketball terms) and his knees are no bueno.

  6. loungefly74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Wade is still an effective player but will need to re-evaluate his role. he has pretty much dropped to the “#3″ (maybe 4) option on team or be the best player off the bench. yes,patrick, an ego check needs to be done.

  7. bucrightoff - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    He has to become a better jump shooter to thrive in the bench role. Obviously his burst is gone and who knows how much his knees really have left. Miami should be careful when offering him a new contract and not give him the Kobe treatment, that is paying him for what he did rather than what he’ll do.

    • stoutfiles - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      “Miami should be careful when offering him a new contract”

      Miami won’t be offering him a new contract. He will opt in for two more years and by then Wade will barely be standing. This is it for him.

  8. program33 - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Dwade’s biggest problem is his pride not his knee. It’s obvious by his comments that he does not see what everyone else sees. Just an opinion.

  9. misterdreamer119 - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    The guy is finished as an all star. Hes a role player now. Heat should offer him about 6 mill for 2 years. So I guess he will opt in for 16 mill for his player option year.

  10. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    D wade is without my favorite player since the 03 draft…he has carried this heat team to new heights with great excitement..but his career is dwindling..its sad to see flash like this..honestly i dont know why he would even opt out of his contract now. no way will he get that kind of money anywhere else..if all three opt in we are screwed financially…*in pat riley i trust*

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Did i say anything that wasnt true?

  11. cantonbound13 - Jun 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    To Wade’s defense, flopping is hard on the knees. Also Fathers Day is always a busy day for him with his illegitimate children around the country.

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Isn’t it illegal for you to even type or utter the word “children”?

  12. tmatic74 - Jun 16, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    The Heat should let him know before he opts in that he may no longer be a starter or could possibly be traded. Dude is moving like Fred Sanford now.

  13. antistratfordian - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Here’s a major difference though: Wade won last year and Ginobili lost last year, and one of the reasons Ginobili lost was boneheaded plays by Ginobili – so of course Manu was going to play with more of an edge.

    Wade played like he wasn’t as motivated. But maybe he will be now after his own stinging finals loss.

  14. jjthesportsguy - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    No is the correct answer. D – Wade’s shooting went out the door with his knees. Pack the paint and watch D-Wade avoid shooting wide open jumpers. Happened all finals long.

    • savvybynature - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:49 PM

      This. He needs to spend the summer with a shooting coach.

  15. drewzducks - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Wade will be fine as long as they limit him to 2 minutes a game. DOS !

  16. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Jun 17, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    If wade cn redefine his game, shoot jumpshots more consistently without using athelicism, he will be fine…It seems like a tall order, because he would basically have to become a whole new player..

  17. wowwowbad - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:44 AM

    Wade don’t have that cold-blood swagger mentally like Manu.

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