Image Dwyane Wade
Dusan Vranic  /  AP
USA's Dwyane Wade (9) reacts as Spain's Carlos Jimenez (10) walks away during the men's gold medal basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24.
updated 8/25/2008 6:52:35 PM ET 2008-08-25T22:52:35

Dwyane Wade took two steps off the airplane Monday afternoon, Olympic gold medal swaying from his neck, before stopping and extending his arms wide.

"Finally," he said.

With that, Wade made good on a promise. He'd brought that medal, the one he waited four years to touch, home to Miami.

In a month, he and the Miami Heat will open training camp for a new NBA season, but until then, the All-Star guard intends to spend plenty of time resting and celebrating the title captured by the U.S. men's basketball team in Beijing, something that essentially amounts to his second world championship.

"I can get used to it," said Wade, who had 27 points to lead the U.S. over Spain for the Olympic title and arrived home wearing a black Converse ensemble trimmed in — what else? — gold. "I'm going to get used to it. I'm going to have it on for a little while."

The Olympic party isn't going to end anytime soon, either.

Around the same time Wade's private plane landed in a Miami suburb, the Heat announced plans for a gold medal ceremony of their own Thursday, replete with a banner unfurled in his honor that will hang alongside the NBA championship banner Wade helped the franchise claim in 2006.

"To be part of the 2008 Olympic team, to play with the best players in the world and to be on this team, it's just amazing," Wade said. "It really meant a lot to me, especially after the last two seasons that I've had injury-wise and that the Miami Heat have had. It can bring us back to life, not just me, but bring Miami back. I had a lot to prove going over there."

Wade was part of the team that won bronze at the Athens Games in 2004, and spent the last three years vowing to bring gold back from Beijing. But after spending the past two NBA seasons wracked with injuries, some wondered if Wade — who missed Miami's final 21 games last season because of knee problems — would even be a part of the team that the U.S. would send to China.

In the end, though, Wade proved his worth, and then some.

He didn't start any of the eight games in Beijing, yet still finished the Olympics as the top American scorer, averaging 16 points on 67 percent shooting. And he might have been at his best in the gold-medal game, scoring 21 points in the first half to help the U.S. hold off Spain's best effort.

"It was scripted perfectly," Wade said. "For our team, for myself individually, to come out and have that kind of performance early in the first half, to keep us afloat, it really meant a lot to me personally after all the things that have been said and all the question marks about whether I was even going to make the team. And I became a big part of the team."

Before the Olympics, Wade talked about going to China and "playing angry," a reference to both the doubters who felt he didn't merit a spot on the Beijing squad after struggling with injuries and the fact that the Heat stumbled their way to an NBA-worst 15-67 record last season.

Now with Olympic gold, Wade wants to bring the same approach into the NBA season — believing he has more to prove.

"There's been a lot that went on in my life to get to this point," Wade said. "When I won a championship, everything was going great as an adult. Nothing went wrong. I've had a lot of things that went bad since then.

"You quiet people, but you don't completely shut them up," he added. "I've quieted some people for now."

Wade said he can't wait to start playing with highly touted Heat rookies Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, and reconnect with older teammates.

But after two months of intense rehab to get his knee ready for play, then the travel demands and 13 games in four weeks during the Olympic cycle, he's ready for a break as well.

"One thing I want to do is relax," Wade said. "We've been gone for a month, we've been preparing for three months almost, and you want to relax a little bit. I'll continue to enjoy it, but at the same time, we start training camp about a month from today or whatever. So I'll talk to my coaches and come to training camp ready to go."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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