For a brief moment Wednesday night, the armor was lifted and, with the right eyes, you could see into Dwyane Wade’s soul — observe the working parts that motivate one of the toughest competitors in professional sports.

“This is my life,” he said. “I am not supposed to be at this podium right now. I’ve always tried to overcome.”

In one form or another, Wade’s life has been about overcoming adversity. So, if you thought for a single second that he was going to sit out a playoff game against his hometown Chicago Bulls, then you haven’t been paying attention for the past 10 years.

“Hopefully, one day when I walk away from this game,” Wade said, “I get the respect that my game deserves, whatever that may be.”

In Wade’s line of work, victory is the currency that pays for respect. And, right now, Wade is rich and Derrick Rose, another proud Chicagoan, well, he’s rich, too, but his team’s season is over.

Enduring distress, defeating adversity, cheating the odds, regaining balance after a hard fall: these are universal experiences that transcend a basketball court. In five games against the Bulls, Wade’s life played out like the character arc of a classic novel.

“It’s a Catch-22,” said LeBron James, most likely unaware that Yossarian definitely would have sat out against the Bulls to preserve his basketball career. “If [Wade] doesn’t play, you guys [media] are like, ‘Why is he not in uniform? It’s a playoff game, why is he not playing?’ If he does play, when he’s not scoring 20 points, it’s, ‘D-Wade shouldn’t be out there.’

“He’s a Hall of Famer. He has two rings. He doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone. No one.”

Oh, but Wade did have something to prove. Always has. Why do you think he wore that Marquette shirt earlier this week during an off-day practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago?

“My journey is, I’ve always had to … I didn’t even get recruited by UIC. Let’s just say that,” Wade said at the time when trying to compare himself and James. “We’re here today, and I didn’t even get recruited by UIC in Chicago. My journey was different, so I’m able to look at things a little different.”