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Every player in the NBA wants to start. That is a given. When they come off the bench, regardless of skill level, they often view it as something that’s beneath them.
That has nothing to do with selfishness, or guys not wanting to be part of a team environment. Instead, every player that makes it to the NBA was a star somewhere else. NBA players believe they are great — and compared to the rest of us, they most definitely are.
So coming off the bench, at any level, isn’t something for which they long.
Dwyane Wade, however, is no ordinary NBA player. He is a 12-time All-Star. He is a champion. He is also 35-years old. That means he has to evolve if his goal is to win more titles.
When it comes to Wade and the Cleveland Cavaliers, coming off the bench is no big thing. In fact, Wade actually seems to enjoy it.
“I knew Game 1,” Wade said of his reserve role in an exclusive interview with USA Today.
“I knew for me to be successful and for me to come to this team and bring what I can to this team, the starting unit just wasn’t a unit for me. So, I decided to go to the unit that was for me.”
Wade is a 6-foot-4 guard and has figured out the role, coming off the bench for a winning team for the first time in his life. He is arguably the Cavs’ best defender — perimeter or otherwise.
He is averaging 14.9 points and 3.9 assists over the previous 10 games. There are nights he looks like the Wade of old. There are other nights he looks like an older Wade, but still a very good Wade.
And get this: Wade actually went to Cavs coach Tyronn Lue and requested to come off the bench. That’s a widely known fact among Cavs fans, but it’s worth repeating. In the NBA, coming off the bench takes swallowing your pride and a willingness to do whatever it takes.
Fittingly, after a slow start, the Cavs have won 14 of 15 and 15 of 17. That included their recent 13-game winning streak. Those around the team and within the organization widely credit Wade, and his leadership, for playing a major role in getting things turned around.
As Lue has often said, Wade “controls” the successful second unit, a unit has also received valuable contributions from the likes of Jeff Green, Kyle Korver, Channing Frye and even rookie Cedi Osman.
“First, we have a future Hall of Famer say he wants to come off the bench. That was the first step,” Lue told reporters. “And then seeing who fits well together, who plays well together and getting that second unit intact has just been great all season. That’s kind of his unit. He runs and controls that unit, so he’s more comfortable having the ball in his hands.”
Basically, Wade has been displaying the determination of someone who’s first priority is winning a championship. So basically, it’s no surprise the Cavs are again looking like they very well could play for another one.