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Thursday, August 14, 2008 - Page updated at 08:50 AM

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Wade: No more health questions; amazing Phelps

Welcome back to Inside the Mind of Dwyane Wade. I know you want to know how things are going over here in China. Let's start with other sports.

For The Associated Press

BEIJING —

Welcome back to Inside the Mind of Dwyane Wade. I know you want to know how things are going over here in China. Let's start with other sports.

The big story over here is swimming and Michael Phelps. I got the opportunity to go see history in the making. It's amazing. Let me tell you how good he is. When I saw him he cruised through the first three laps, he probably was in third place. When he got to the last leg, he just took off. And just like that, a record. To be able to watch that kind of greatness in person is something I'll always remember. We watched him with other US athletes and swimmers, who were filling us in on things we didn't know.

Our women's basketball team has been playing unbelievable. We went to their game against China and by the time we got there they were up 40. You can see their focus and determination. We have a sense of pride when they're winning just like they have a sense of pride when we're winning. We support each other probably as good as any two teams can. But we enjoy getting out, going to as many events as we can. We didn't want to be looked at as exclusive. We are really changing the culture of how USA Basketball is perceived. We're not doing it for any publicity, it's just who we are.

We're perceived as being cocky, high-paid athletes. Now I think people are saying these guys are cool, they're supporting the USA. But we've been having fun, everything from going to the Olympic village to different events.

For me, the big question I've been getting from Day One is "Are you back? Are you back? Are you back?" Personally, I'm tired of hearing it. I worked my tail off, not just for this moment, but for the rest of my career. I want to be able to perform at the level I know I can perform at.

I appreciate the fans who stuck by me when I went through my injuries, my two major surgeries - my shoulder and my knee - I appreciate the fans who stayed behind the (Miami) Heat when we were 15-67. There were a lot of dark days and dark nights for me as a person. I was written off by a lot of people, saying 'Will Dwyane come back to the form that he was.' I was written off the quickest anybody ever has in one year, though I still averaged 24 points and six assists a game. I think people thought I forgot how to play the game of basketball.

But I'm back, feeling great. I'm coming off the bench, playing hard to help this Olympic team win the gold. Playing hard defense and attacking offensively. Athletes are very prideful. And after losing in 2004 and being talked about for four years, I'm ready - we're all ready.

The fans in China have been unbelievable. They have been great. Everybody here has a camera; everybody has a pen and pad. During opening ceremony, all the athletes gathered in one spot. It was hot and we had these suits on, but Carmelo (Anthony) and I decided to walk around all three floors where we were all standing. And when I tell you I took a million pictures and signed a million and three autographs, I'm not lying. But we enjoy it, seeing our game go globally.

Big ups to the NBA and David Stern. Kobe is really big over here. LeBron is really big over here. I can hear my name being chanted, Wade-da. It's not Wade, it's Wade-da.

It has been amazing to me my hair was such a big topic. Now, I think I look a little better with hair, but it wasn't about that. It was about basketball, focusing on getting back to the basics. My hair is growing back, it will be back by the time I get home with my gold medal. I'll have my waves back in no time.

Before I close it out this time, I hope all the kids from Robbins, Ill., my hometown, or kids around the world who don't feel like they can do anything big in life look at me. I had those same doubts. You can go places, see things. You have just to believe. All the way from Robbins, Ill., to Beijing, China, it can happen.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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