Dwyane Wade to Anthony Davis: Don't rush back

NEW ORLEANS -- Not many top NBA players can sympathize with New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis being shut down to face simultaneous medical procedures for debilitating injuries in his prime.

Count Miami Heat veteran Dwyane Wade among the select few.

"It's going to be a tough road, trust me," Wade said to ESPN.com of Davis. "When you're young like he is, you can bounce back from these things, especially with how advanced things are today. He's got all the talent in the world. I'm sure he's going to be fine."

Wade's words of encouragement came in advance of the Heat's visit to New Orleans for Tuesday's game against the Pelicans, who will be without Davis for the remainder of the season as he prepares for surgery on his left shoulder and another procedure on his left knee.

The predicament with Davis nixes Tuesday's showdown between two of the league's most recognizable superstars and instead renders the game more of a show of support from Wade to the 23-year-old Pelicans forward who is headed down an eerily similar path with his health.

Like Davis, Wade was in his fourth year in the league when a midseason shoulder injury was compounded by a lingering knee issue and forced the Heat's catalyst to endure surgery for both at the end of the 2006-07 season. The Heat had won the NBA title the previous season, and Wade initially delayed surgery for both maladies until after he returned from a two-month absence to play in a 2007 first-round playoff series, in which the Heat were swept in four games by the Chicago Bulls.

It is unclear when Davis will have surgery for his shoulder and knee, but he told reporters on Monday that he "might as well knock both out at the same time."

Wade had his procedures done at the same time too, a decision he still cringes to think about.

"It sucked. It was hard, man," Wade said as the Heat wrapped up Monday's practice before departing for New Orleans. "I didn't want to have them both at the same time. I fought it to the very last day. I didn't agree to do it until I went in there that day to the hospital. For one, I knew how difficult it was already going to be to rehab a shoulder. That's six months. And then, it's the knee too."

The scariest part for Wade came during the initial days after the double surgery.

"My whole left side just shut down," Wade recalled. "It was a hopeless feeling. I had to be in the bed for 10 days in a row, for 23 hours a day. I got one hour a day to be up. I couldn't use the bathroom or anything. Everything was shut down. I had to get one of those remote mobile [scooters] to take me around. I built a ramp in my house, and that was my [free] hour, just riding it around the house. That's how it was the first two weeks. After that, I was able to travel, then able to do small rehab."

Davis confirmed Monday his recovery is expected to take up to five months, which rules him out to participate with Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Wade's recovery nine years ago took him out of action for the USA team's qualifying tournament the year before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Both Davis and Wade had similar pre-surgery career arcs.

Davis has battled through nagging injuries during his first four seasons in the league, but he is a perennial All-Star, All-NBA selection and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, and he has posted one of the highest player efficiency ratings in history, all while guiding the Pelicans to his first playoff appearance last season. Wade was a three-time All-Star, NBA champion and 2006 NBA Finals MVP by the time his fourth season came to a painful end.

Wade said it was only natural for doubt to enter his mind throughout the grueling rehab. He wasn't certain that his body would allow his game to return to the heights he reached before the surgeries. Six months after surgery, Wade returned to the lineup two weeks into the 2007-08 season. Still bothered by recurring knee soreness, Wade missed the final 21 games to undergo a follow-up procedure.

Wade's primary advice to Davis: Don't rush back.

"If this is something he's going to go through, the biggest thing is patience," Wade said. "It's not coming back from those procedures too soon. I got those surgeries [in May], and I think I was there trying to do stuff in training camp. But maybe I should have waited longer to make sure I was 100 percent or as close to it as I could be. So it's more about patience than anything. Eventually, you bounce back."

Ultimately, it took Wade 14 months to regain his peak form after both surgeries. After missing chunks of two seasons, Wade's breakthrough came at the 2008 Olympics, when he led Team USA in scoring and was named most outstanding player. He maintained that momentum heading into the 2008-09 season and finished third in MVP voting after leading the NBA in scoring for the only time in his career.

During the most difficult stages of rehab, Wade admits he doubted if he could ever be the same player that dominated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 Finals. He feared his body wouldn't allow him to be elite again.

"I did," Wade said. "I started going right into my business stuff. I changed up a lot of the things I did. I fired a couple of people ... because I was like, 'What if this is it for me? What if this was it for the player that I was up to that point? Have I set myself up? Have I put myself in the right position?'

"Coming off this, he has to learn his body, approach it a little differently and take care of his body -- not like a young guy, but like a veteran." Dwyane Wade on Anthony Davis

"I was thinking that more so than anything. Those things come into your mind, but you've got to kick them out fast. You have to have the right people around you, the right trainers that push you, that help you and show you that you can get back there."

It's been a constant battle, but Wade has endured. Nine years after those double surgeries, he's added nine more All-Star appearances, four more trips to the Finals and two more titles. Last week, Wade became the 41st player in league history to reach 20,000 career points.

If there's a manual for overcoming Davis' current dilemma, it was likely authored by Wade. And if Wade gets a chance to speak with Davis during the Heat's stop in New Orleans, there's another pointer he's certain to relay to his fellow Chicago native.

"Coming off this, he has to learn his body, approach it a little differently and take care of his body -- not like a young guy, but like a veteran," Wade said. "He's dealt with a lot of knickknack injuries, a lot of things in his career already. He's got to treat his body like a veteran now. If he does that, he'll be fine. He'll be back. And we all know he's capable of playing a lot of great years in this league."