Monday night marks the end of an era as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade share the court for the final time when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Miami Heat. After 16 seasons in the league together, Wade is set to retire at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
The matchup will be bittersweet for James, who spent four years as Wade’s teammate in Miami and part of last year as teammates in Cleveland.
“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” said James following the Lakers’ 111-88 win over the Memphis Grizzles on Saturday. “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 couldn’t say exactly why he and Wade became so close over the years but did point to their start in the league together.
“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.”
And although they may have started in the NBA together, James says he isn’t near ready to walk away.
“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.”
For Wade, Monday night also means more to him than just another regular-season game, and he plans to savor it. Wade dropped 25 points Saturday in the Heat’s 121-98 win over the L.A. Clippers — marking game No. 1,000 of his career — and said Monday’s matchup will have a “special” feeling.
“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,” said Wade. “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.”
—Field Level Media