Hovering over the Bulls first playoff game Sunday with the tragic death of the sister of Boston Celtics point guard and star scorer Isaiah Thomas.
“All of our hearts go out to Isaiah and his family at this time,” said Dwyane Wade. “We compete against each other, but it is a brotherhood. I’m sure everyone will have their moment to say something to him. As competitors, we understand that whenever something is going wrong in our life the best place to be is on this basketball court for those two, two-and-a-half hours. That’s where his mind is going to be the clearest. We know he’s looking forward to getting in this environment and the tragedy that happened.
“I don’t think anyone one would know how well they would play,” said Wade. “But I think everyone would want to. This is a place you can get away and be somebody else, especially in the playoffs, in this atmosphere and you’re one of the best players like he is in this game. It’s a moment when you can go out and let your emotions out.”
Fortunately for not similar reasons, there’s emotions running with Wade, who is the senior in this series in terms of championships and playoff games, 166.
Is it Dwyane Wade time? Does it have to be?
“I feel responsibility to these guys in the locker room to give them the knowledge of what I’ve learned by being in the playoffs, experience in playing in 166 games or whatever the case may be,” said Wade. “But when you talk about performance we all put a lot on our shoulders to perform at our best at all times. You always want to take it up a level and I’ve always tried to do that. Haven’t always done that, but for the most part I have. So I definitely want to do that, but the responsibility of being a leader and helping those guys in situations and to be a calming factor.”
Thomas and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler are the scoring stars for their teams, the only two All-Stars in the series. But an X-Y-Z factor may be Wade, who is 35 and missed most of the last month injured, but has come through in big times. It’s a big time for the Bulls, and all playoff games are big times, Wade agrees.
“I was looking at Tony Parker, has 200 some (playoff) games ,” Wade was saying before the game in a 12-minute session with media. “I was, all right, ‘I have a long way to go.’ LeBron is at 200 something, Tim Duncan. That’s the barometer of success in our game. So I feel very honored to have played 166 some playoff games. I’ve won a lot, lost a lot, played well in a lot, played awful in some. That’s the beauty of the game. You never know what to expect, so I look forward to what this playoff brings.
“I’ve been in so many different situations,” Wade noted. “You have to keep the ultimate goal in mind; you have to understand it is a long series. You can’t get too high or low game to game because every game is different. That’s the one thing myself and (Rajon) Rondo, who have been champions, can help these guys with. It’s going to be times these young guys look great and do some positive things and vice versa for the veterans as well and times as not, but as a team we have to hung together and stick together.
“This is going to be a learning experience (for the young guys),” said Wade. “The one thing we talked about is environment. Denzel has asked a lot of questions. His first thing was. ‘Is this like the Final Four?’ The way we can help them is as we go through this. At the end of the day, it is basketball. But in the playoffs, when you win, you feel amazing. When you lose, you feel low. It’s dark nights. We have to continue to help these guys along the way with the way we lead, our body language and all those things. We can be mad about missing shots. We can be mad about turnovers. But not showing too much frustration and giving them confidence that they can do well no matter what goes on.
“At the end of the day we have to go out and who is going to make the most adjustments between these teams,” said Wade. “Boston is a very good team. We know what they want to do; they know what we want to do. It’s who is going make the adjustments play to play, quarter to quarter, game to game; that’s who is going to win the series.”
And so the Bulls get that second chance.
“If you’ve played any professional sports, you understand that throughout some point in the season, you’re going to go through some adversity,” Wade noted. “The one thing this team can pat itself on the back about is we have been through it already. When you go in the playoffs, you go through more. But we have been through some. We use that as a strengthening moment. We can go through some things and still come out.”