The Miami Heat guard called USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski on Thursday to break the news, which was not totally unexpected after Wade played through pain in the NBA playoffs.
He appeared in all 23 Heat playoff games despite the knee problems, averaging 22.6 points during the five-game win over Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.
“I've decided to listen to my doctors and get the procedure I need on my knee,” Wade told The Associated Press. “USA Basketball said I had to do what was best for me.
They want me to be obviously as healthy as possible so I can continue to play this game at a high level. They were very supportive and told me if I ever want to come around the team, I'm welcome and that I'm part of the family.”
Wade and his doctors are in the process of scheduling the surgery. Wade has been told it will be basically a “cleanup” procedure and should have him on crutches for only about a day afterwards.
If all goes according to plan, Wade will be ready for the start of training camp with the Heat this autumn.
“I don't think it's going to limit me too much,” Wade said.
His departure leaves 17 players in contention for 12 spots on the U.S. Olympic team. That group convenes in Las Vegas next week to start training camp, then has five exhibitions with international teams before opening Olympic play against France on July 29.
Wade was the leading scorer for the U.S. team on its way to gold at the Beijing Games four years ago, and he hoped to be part of defending that title in London.
But after meeting with doctors, Wade realized surgery was inevitable and delaying it until after the Olympics would seriously jeopardize his chance of being ready for the start of Miami's NBA title defense.
Wade told The AP last week that making sure he's ready for the rest of his career with the Heat would be his top priority, though the decision to pass on a chance to play in his third—and what would have been final—Olympics was extremely difficult nonetheless.
His exit means Miami will have no more than two players on the U.S. team in London.
Finals MVP LeBron James is a certainty, and forward Chris Bosh said this week that he's “all in—for now” despite missing nine playoff games with a strained abdominal muscle. Bosh said he would confer with doctors before making a final commitment to the Olympic team.