Like a thief in the night, knee and leg injuries can swoop in and steal an athlete's greatest asset - his athleticism. Now this is not the convoluted plot of Space Jam 2, but rather an article to help one relate with the athletes we admire and witness how they've suffered. As basketball enthusiasts we've seen devastating injuries tear All-Star careers apart. Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, and most recently Tracy McGrady have all been victim to a leg injury that took an axe to their prolific careers. In the past two years ACL tears have become more frequent in the NBA and professional sports. Because of that, adjustments to rehab and surgery have become more advanced and thus can aid the player in becoming even stronger in some cases a la Adrian Peterson. In any case, for some it's hard to imagine playing with a major leg and or knee injury, and that leaves viewers both ignorant and insensitive to the pain an athlete endures.
"Dwyane Wade is finished. His career is on the decline. Without his athleticism he can't be Flash again. What's come of Wade?"
Throughout Miami's last two post-season runs, Wade has been on the receiving end of conversation that is comparable to him receiving a death sentence. Of course, there is some truth to the criticism as it appears knee injuries have taken their toll on Wade, as proven by his diminishing post-season statistics. However, after two successful regular seasons it's painfully obvious that it is the injuries alone that are hindering his post-season performance. I've watched Dwyane closely over the course of these seasons and noticed the same pain I've felt many a time.
I tore my ACL playing in a varsity football game in my senior year of high school. Rather then undergo surgery right away, I decided to rehab my knee and be ready for basketball season. After seven weeks of gruelling rehab, I felt strong enough to compete. I strapped on a knee brace and went to work, but unbeknownst to me at the time was that basketball would never be the same for me. While my knee didn't hurt, while playing I realized things were different. My vertical jump diminished along with some of my explosiveness, there were also times where it seemed as if I couldn't keep a consistent lift on my jump shots and in return they appeared short. In any case, there were other times when I felt great and felt like I could compete on an elite level forever. Throughout the season I personally believe Wade experienced the same sentiments, especially after re-injuring his knee during the 27-game win streak. With knee injuries, the bad begins to outweigh the good and that's when you begin to be affected mentally.
Wade still has that hunger, it hasn't yet vanished, but with the multitude of knee injuries it's been caged. There were times when it escaped, and many times where it remained dormant. You could tell he was fighting through, but sometimes it just seemed like he was missing a step. When basketball isn't fun it takes a toll on an athlete mentally. Naturally during this post-season run there were instances were Dwyane appeared disgruntled. Fortunately, Dwyane was able to overcome adversity once again and contribute when needed to win his 3rd NBA championship.
Leg injuries are brutal, they hold an athlete back from their potential and for a player like Wade that can really take away from one's game. In spite of this Wade isn't done, he's undergone shock therapy to treat his tendonitis and has once again teamed up with famed trainer Tim Grover to better himself for the season. Dwyane has that fire, and is taking the steps to let it loose.
Knee injuries have hindered him in recent years, but it appears they haven't broken him, and I personally doubt they ever will.
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