MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade says it with no apologies. There was a time when he thought 30 sounded old.
Now that 30 is here, it doesn't sound so bad.
Wade's 20s are over, a decade in which he was part of more than 445 wins at the college, pro and international levels, fathered two sons, was the MVP of the Miami Heat's run to the 2006 NBA championship, helped the U.S. capture an Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, claimed a scoring title, had estimated earnings topping $100 million and made seven All-Star appearances.
Yes, his 20s were roaring. Bring on the 30s, he says.
"I never really sit and think about when I came in at 21 to now, turning 30, how time has gone," Wade said this week in an interview with the Associated Press. "I never really sit and think about it because I'm always moving. But when you look at your career and you say, `I've got more years in than I want to have left,' you've got to be realistic with yourself. It's real. It becomes real. So I took a little look back."
And what did he decide after taking that look back?
"You know, you didn't do bad, kid," said Wade, who routinely says he'd like to play in the NBA until his mid- to late 30s. "I'll see what I can do next."
Big-picture, Wade is still at the top of his game, though at this particular moment in time that's not exactly the case. A sprained right ankle is the most significant of three lower-leg maladies he's been dealing with of late, and he's not looking likely to play Tuesday night when Miami -- losers of three straight -- opens a five-game homestand by playing host to the Spurs.
It surprised no one that he was picked Monday for USA Basketball's pool of 20 finalists for the 12-man roster heading to the London Olympics this summer, and it will surprise no one again if he's ultimately selected for that team. Among active players, his career average of 25.3 points per game for the Heat ranks third in the league, behind only Miami teammate LeBron James (27.7) and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant (25.4). And he has blocked nearly twice as many shots as any other guard in the league since entering the NBA in 2003.
"Dwyane is a very smart guy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. "He was very mature when he came in at 21. He didn't carry himself like a normal rookie. But certainly, he's changed. His experience on and off the court, he's become a leader, he's become a brand, he's become a positive example for so many people."
He was also quickly labeled a "can't-miss" around the league, many coaches have said.
They were right.
"Yeah, he was a ridiculous talent," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, when asked if he saw anything early in Wade's career that tipped him off to what the former Marquette guard would do in the NBA. "It was pretty obvious to everybody that he was a hell of a player. And he was a hard worker. He had great skills, great athleticism, understood how to play. Everybody knew he was going to be a great one."
There will be a time when the downside of aging means he's not as great, and Wade acknowledges that.
That day still may be a long way away, although in the Heat locker room, turning 30 is not exactly warmly received.
"In NBA years, that's like 90," said Heat forward Chris Bosh, who turns 28 in March, with tongue firmly in cheek.
Keeping with the nonagenarian theme, Wade's family got him a birthday present he won't soon forget this weekend.
Wade's family and close friends gathered at a hotel Saturday for a private brunch, where the Heat guard got a bunch of tributes. First, out came his sons and a third relative who is being raised by Wade, who was surprised because it was his ex-wife's weekend to have the children before a schedule switch was agreed upon.
Then came the real gift: Wade's 91-year-old grandmother, who lives in Chicago, sneaked up to his side and left him taken completely aback. Despite her grandson's urging, she had always refused to fly -- until now. The man who can buy himself almost anything got the present he wanted most.
"It was very emotional," Wade said. "She's 91. Every day with her is a blessing that we have. It's a bonus. To see her come down, to hear her laugh, it brought back so many memories. She's come to games maybe two or three times since I've been in the NBA. It's been great when we can do that with her in Chicago. She said she'll only fly with my mom, but she's ready to fly again. That was the cake."