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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Heat’s Wade cherishes the enormity of record-breaking All-Star Game

The East’s Dwyane Wade dunks the ball during the NBA All-Star game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, February 14, 2010. (Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

ARLINGTON, TexasDwyane Wadehad big-time visions of being a perennial All-Star when he entered the league.

But in seven seasons, including six trips to the NBA’s midseason showcase, Wade never experienced the enormity of what he got himself into at Cowboys Stadium.

Wade stood at midcourt moments before the start of Sunday’s All-Star Game and was engulfed by the attention of the largest crowd in history to watch a basketball game, which the East won, 141-139.

“”Not even in my dreams have I ever played in front of an audience this big,”” Wade, the Miami Heat guard, said as he gazed a crowd that would grow to an announced 108,713 fans. “”I got a couple of butterflies. But I’m more excited than anything to be here and to be part of making history.””

Sunday’s attendance easily topped the previous record for largest crowd to watch a basketball game of 78,129, set in 2003 for a game between Kentucky and Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit.

Wade responded on the NBA’s biggest stage with one of his most productive All-Star efforts in his fifth start. Wade had 28 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in a game-high 31 minutes to contend for MVP.

As thrilling as Sunday’s experience was for Wade, he is now desperate to return to the spotlight of the NBA Finals. The six All-Star appearances are nice. The accompanying commercial exposure has paid off.

But none of it compares to the NBA title run Wade led the Heat on in 2006, his third season in the league.

The combination of sharing the court Sunday with superstars he will recruit to Miami this summer in free agency, and returning to the city where he helped the Heat clinch the Finals against Dallas reminded Wade of just how eager he is to win again.

“”Obviously, 2006 was great,”” said Wade, whose Finals most valuable player award and championship trophy have collected plenty of dust. “”It was really good. But it was four years ago. And that’s a long time.””

The Heat has fallen on relatively hard times since reaching the highest point in franchise history. Miami has gone 102-144 with three playoff victories since 2006.

This season resumes with the Heat carrying a 26-27 record into Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia.

Even with Miami holding significant salary-cap space and plans for major roster upgrade this summer, fellow All-Stars can sympathize with Wade’s eagerness to win at an elite level after rough seasons.

“”It took seven years for us to get back to that mountain, so I know how frustrating it is to be in that position,”” said Los Angeles Lakers guardKobe Bryant, who won three consecutive titles from 1999-2002 before winning again last season.

Bryant believes with another key player, the Heat could jump back into the championship mix soon.

“”In D-Wade’s situation, withPat Rileythere, he has the same hunger D-Wade has,”” Bryant said. “”That’s a plus. That’s a start. Wade has all of the talent in the world to get them back over that hump if they build it.””

Much like Bryant and Wade, San Antonio Spurs centerTim Duncanwon a ring before his 24th birthday. Unlike those other two, Duncan never had a drought of more than three seasons.

“”Still, every other year or so is stressful when we don’t win it all,”” Duncan said. “”When you win early, you expect it to always be like that. It doesn’t take long to lose patience.””

But Sunday also was about having fun. And Wade had plenty playing alongside close friendsLeBron JamesandJoe Johnson, and playing for ex-Heat coachStan Van Gundy.

“”I was kidding him earlier and said, ‘I’m not going to yell at anybody but you, just for old-time sake’ “” saidVan Gundy, who coached the Heat for Wade’s first two NBA seasons. “”I haven’t been able to yell at him for five years. So then, he comes into the locker room with ear plugs on.””

But Wade didn’t tune out his goal of winning another title to go with his collection of All-Star accolades.

“”I have a ring and trophy to show for it,”” Wade said. “”But you want to continue to be greedy. You want to win more. That’s what the great players do. They win a lot.””


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