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Wade Has The Look Of A Champion

By DeAndré Phillips

We've seen this look from Dwyane Wade before - the face of focus, the fire in his eyes, the tunnel vision. the bald head.

HEAT fans may remember the look from the 2006 opening round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. And if you're a HEAT fan, you also remember the end result.

At the completion of the playoffs, Wade was holding more gold than the Fort Knox Bullion Depository - leading the HEAT to its first NBA Championship (winning the 24 karat gold overlay Larry O'Brien Trophy) while earning Finals MVP honors.

This summer, Wade is looking to add more gold to his collection in the upcoming Olympics. The person who was named by "GQ" magazine as the "Best Dressed Player in the NBA" says that going bald isn't a fashion statement. Instead, it's just one way to help him stay focused in Team USA's quest to capture gold.

"I've gone bald for the simple fact that I'm focused solely on basketball," Wade said in his Olympic diary. "I'm not concerning myself with waking up in the morning, brushing my hair trying to look pretty. I'm really focused on playing and bringing home the gold."

He is off to a good start. In his first two games, Wade is showing he is back to being the player who dominated the NBA before knee and shoulder injuries slowed him down over the past two years.

In the United State's first exhibition game against Canada, the four-time All-Star dazzled his way to 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting, and at the same time quieted his critics who questioned his health and fitness.

Wade was just as spectacular in the second game against Turkey, finishing with 13 points and making a cameo on the highlight reel with his second-half monster dunk.

"We are all taking these games very seriously," Wade said. "We saw first-hand in 2004 that we can't just show up and expect to win. International teams have been playing together for a while and they are playing with a tremendous sense of pride for their countries. Since 2004 - we've been working to get to know each other better as teammates...we have a great sense of camaraderie at this point and we are willing to learn from each other in order to get better as a team. I think we have the team in place that can win the gold. "

Wade, who normally rocks the low cut Caesar haircut with parallel lines stylishly barbered on the side of his head, admits that the way the 2005-06 season played out had a lot to do with his decision to shave it off again.

"Yes, winning the championship did play a role in shaving my head," he said. "I've always shaved my head bald during playoff times - even back in high school. For some reason - going bald gives me a different focus. I also didn't want to worry about finding a barber in China."

For HEAT fans who aren't too enthused about Wade's new look, he asks for a little empathy and patience. You may be happy again with the results.

"I apologize to all the people who don't like the new look," he said, "but I am on a mission to win the gold and be less concerned about my looks."