LONDON -- Celtics fans don't need to be reminded that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are Nemeses 1 and 1A -- the lingering memories from the Eastern Conference Finals more than suffice in that sense. But when it comes to matters of the Olympics rather than the NBA, perhaps their talents are easier to appreciate around here, at least for a couple of weeks. (No chance? Well, I tried.)
While LeBron has emerged as the single most indispensable player to Team USA with his myriad of skills on full display, Wade, of course, is not playing at all, having ceded his roster spot in June when he required knee surgery following the Heat's victory over the Thunder in the NBA Finals.
But Wade is in the city for a few days, and he'll be in attendance at Wednesday's medal-round opener against Australia. I caught up with him for a few minutes this morning at a Gatorade Sport and Science Institute event at the NBA House to catch his thoughts on the state of Team USA, among other topics.
1. Are you concerned about Team USA's slow starts? Other than the Nigeria game, it's taken them some time to get their bearings early in games.
Wade: "Yeah, a little. They're spending a lot of time feeling each other out, almost being too unselfish at times. I don't think they'll start slow now that it's the medal round, now that it's win or go home. You've got to understand one thing, too -- a lot of guys are so excited to come out and play the US team, and they're so fired up and energized that they play at a really high level. One of the best things about the US team is their depth. We wear on guys, wear on guys, wear on 'em until eventually they break."
2. LeBron has often been the facilitator of the offense early in games, but he's been able to completely take scoring-wise whenever necessary. Are you at all surprised that he's controlling play pretty much at will?
Wade: "Well, LeBron is one of the greatest players in the world, and he has the ability to help a team win probably more than anyone else in the game. You see it, he can turn it on scoring-wise, he can pile up rebounds, assists, whatever is needed. He's doing whatever it takes for the team to win. I expect him to be a little more aggressive as we get closer to gold medal time. But aggressive for him is just being out on the court and being able to do whatever he does best, which is everything."
3. You were supposed to be playing here, but gave up your spot when you needed knee surgery after the Finals. Was it frustrating not being out there with these guys?
Wade: "Well, I'm a competitor, and I watch the games and say, 'aw, I could help there,' or 'aw, I could do that.' I see myself out there when I'm watching. In that sense, I miss it. This could have been my last Olympics [he played on the 2008 gold-medal winning team as well as the 2004 squad that took bronze], especially if they put the age limit in, and in that sense there's a little bit of regret. But our game is in great hands. Some of the young guys who have filled in for guys like me and Derrick Rose who couldn't play have done great. I don't know about you, but I've got 'em winning the gold. They're growing as a team, and I think they're going to play better with each successive game. Whether they're winning by 83 or winning by 3, 4, 5, they're finding ways to win and believing in each other."
4. You're going to be here through the weekend. Will you have a chance to catch any events besides basketball?
Wade: "I got in [Tuesday], and you can feel it immediately, the excitement from fans all around the world, and it's a chance to see some amazing athletes. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to check out a few events. Obviously I'm going to go check out basketball and support my team but I'm also going to go catch soccer, the women's finals. I want to experience that. I've never been at a soccer game. I'm one of those guys from afar who doesn't know anything about soccer, so I want to go see what that's all about, to come up with a better appreciation of how great they are as athletes and how great their game is. It's so big around the world, I want to understand it."
5. Being from Boston, I've got to ask: You guys put the full-court recruiting pitch on Ray Allen as soon as Game 7 was over, didn't you?
Wade: Laughs. "Nah, but you know, when you get a chance to add one of the best shooters in history, the best 3-point shooter in history, and you're adding him and making your team better while at the same time hurting one of your biggest rivals, you're pretty happy when it works out. Ray's going to give us another element in our offense, another weapon, and he's really going to enjoy the golf courses, I know that."