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Wade understands LeBron's decision; excited for chance to prove doubters wrong

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Dwyane Wade makes his first public comments since the statement he released shortly after LeBron's decision.

Andy Lyons

It was a flight from Las Vegas to Miami on a Thursday night in July that gripped the basketball world. Thousands of feet above the crazed commotion of free agency sat Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Teammates. All-Stars. Champions. Brothers.

What could they be talking about? fans wondered. Could it be their master plan to bring Larry O'Brien back to Miami? Or were they toasting the end of a great era? As they chatted and embraced post flight, Heat fans, Cavs fans and a riveted NBA nation desperately searched for clues. Was he staying or going?

Wade hadn't been told. But he knew.

"Yeah, I went to sleep knowing," he told the media on Friday, in his first public comments on the matter.

"He called me the next day. But I knew then. Obviously he still had to say the final yay or nay, but I knew. I could tell."

Speaking at his annual Fantasy Basketball Camp in Miami, Wade said despite the lack of forthrightness from his cagey close friend, there is no ill will towards James. Quite the opposite in fact.

"As his friend, I'm just supportive," he said. "As crazy as that might sound, I'm supportive of my friends doing what makes them happy. The decision to go back home was that," he said, confirming he made no big pitch to keep James in South Beach. Wade's trip to Vegas was not a Heat-sponsored recruitment drive.

Shortly after James decided not to sign, Wade did - taking another hit in the pocket in the process. "I don't know, you just do what you feel is right. To have the success you want, you have to give a little bit," he said of his decision to leave cash on the table. "I'm blessed and I'm lucky that we have great ownership, great management and it's a great city."

Wade's comments on Friday echoed the mantra of many in the Heat organization: the Big Three era was great, but it's time to look forwards, not backwards.

"It's no secret, obviously, it's been a change in how we looked the last four years by losing LeBron to Cleveland," he said.

"I think our ownership has done a great job so far of trying to not replace but recover from that. The only thing we do as a franchise and as players is we move forward."

Perhaps the most important growth enabler was Miami's fast work to retain Chris Bosh, when it seemed certain he'd be follow James out of the door. Wade said he reached out to Bosh upon the James news breaking and was informed by CB he'd ‘let him know in an hour,' a greater courtesy than he received from his friend LeBron.

If the new Miami Heat is to compete for a fifth straight Finals berth, the onus and the expectation will rest on the Wade and Bosh. Can Wade's body stand up to the test of a bigger role? The national media doubts it, but perfectly ok with Wade.

"I need it, I need it," he says of the doubts. He sees them as a challenge.

There's a lot of that around the Miami Heat this summer, isn't there?