After 16 years in the league together – four of them spent as teammates – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will share an NBA court for the final time on Monday night when James’ Lakers host Wade’s Heat, as Wade is set to retire following the season (Watch on FuboTV with the NBA TV extension). The game will be a bittersweet situation for James.
“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said of facing off against Wade for the last time, via ESPN. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”
James has difficulty pinpointing exactly why he and Wade became so close over the years, but it’s clear that they have good chemistry – both on and off the court.
“Sometimes it’s just chemistry,” James said. “Sometimes you can’t even explain it. And I bonded with Carmelo [Anthony] when I was in the 10th grade. I bonded with CP3 [Chris Paul] when I was in the 12th, and I bonded with D-Wade when we were both coming into the combine. Some things you just can’t explain, and that’s why we have our brotherhood.”
James and Wade came into the league at the same time, but James isn’t close to being ready to walk away like his longtime friend – and former teammate – is.
“I got to keep it going,” James said. “I got to keep it going for the class of ’03, that’s for sure. So I love where I’m at right now, and D-Wade has definitely had a helluva career, obviously. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, a three-time champion and so on and so on. I mean, it speaks for itself. But what he’s done for that franchise and what he’s done for that community since he’s been drafted has been a pretty good story.”
When it comes to his last game against James, Wade plans to savor the experience.
“You’re always excited to play the Lakers, and obviously, LeBron is there and [it’s] our last time matching up, so it’s definitely gonna be a little bit extra special than any normal game,” Wade said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you, ‘Oh, it’s another one of 82.’ No, it’s not. Not for me. It’s a game where I get to play against not only one of my best friends but one of the game’s greatest players for the last time. I want to win as a team, but I want to savor the opportunities.”
Just a few short years ago, James and Wade were winning titles together in Miami, but things change quickly in the NBA, and their final game on the floor together represents the end of an era.