Miami Heat: The last hurrah for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James hug after the Heat defeated the Cavs, 98-79, at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James hug after the Heat defeated the Cavs, 98-79, at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images) /

When the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers play tonight, it will be the last time Dwyane Wade and LeBron James share a court together. Still, their brotherhood remains among the strongest the league has ever seen.

I am four days older than LeBron James.

I was shooting hoops a few weeks after I  graduated high school, at my parents house, the night of the critically acclaimed 2003 NBA Draft. I knew James’s hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, would take the hometown kid first overall.

As I bricked every shot I took (athletics do not run in my family), I witnessed the beginning of a rivalry. I watched the draft on the television that was in my garage, in-between missed layups and 3’s. James went number one overall, but a Chicago-native who led his Marquette Golden Eagles to the Final Four, went to the Miami Heat with the fifth overall selection.

Dwyane Wade wasn’t talked about as much as James or Carmelo Anthony, another hyped player who fans and the media thought would be James’s biggest rival. James and Anthony would have epic duels, but James and Wade will forever be synonymous with each other, on and off the court.

Tonight, in Los Angeles, will be the last time they will play against each other in the NBA.

Throughout their entire careers, James and Wade have kept a close friendship, probably the best bromance we’ve seen since Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley.

The two were always laughing before and during games, between James’s Cavaliers and Wade’s Heat. No matter how much damage on the court one did to the other’s team, they kept it friendly.

Even when James had one of his first facials of his career in 2005, when he hammered an epic slam in the face of then-Heat guard Damon Jones (who he ironically is good friends with). Even when Wade had arguably his most iconic slam, when he dunked in the face of Anderson Varejao… he and James were brothers before the game, and brothers after.

When James decided to take his talents to South Beach and join the Heat in 2010, it was the ultimate test. Will James be the leader of the new look Heat? Or is it still Wade’s team? Can two close friends make this work?

They did go through some growing pains, but nevertheless reached the NBA Finals in 2011. While Wade played well enough to deserve Finals MVP, it was Dirk Nowitzki who led his Dallas Mavericks to the title and the MVP trophy.

James had perhaps the worst playoff series of his career at the worst time. Wade knew what he had to do. As he was approaching his 30th birthday, he knew he couldn’t play his aggressive style of basketball with the most gifted NBA player of all time.

Wade would do something most people and friends wouldn’t: sacrifice.

He let James be the focal point of the team and Wade adjusted to being second fiddle for the first time in his career. The end result: James wins two straight league MVPs, en route to winning two NBA Championships and two Finals MVPs.

The two friends were able to coexist and win.

Not all friendships last, especially when one friend isn’t completely honest with the other. James bolted from the Heat in the summer of 2014 to “go back home.”

(Whatever that means.)

Wade and Chris Bosh assumed the three of them, upon opting out of their contracts, would re-sign with the Heat. And supposedly, James didn’t even tell his best friend his plans upfront. Wade found out the same way fans did.

That surely would severe any type of relationship, right?


Wade was ecstatic when James finally brought home a title to Cleveland in 2016. James supported Wade when he “went back home” and signed with the Chicago Bulls. They reunited once again when Wade signed with the Cavaliers the next season.

Teammates again.

James was still the best in the world.

Wade? A ailing star who could not be counted on to be consistently at the top of his game. James and the Cavaliers knew this. The team had no chance to win.

They did right by Wade and traded him back to Miami. The friends knew being on the same squad again wasn’t going to work this time. Wade stayed put and signed a one-year deal and has called this season his last, while James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason.

This game is way too early in the season for it to be LeBron versus Wade for the last time, but it’s still happening.

16 years of friendship. 16 years of epic performances. 16 years of LeBron Ramon James Jr. verses Dwyane Tyronne Wade Jr.

Next. Miami Heat: Is Tyler Johnson right about not tanking?. dark

One unfortunate stat: neither man has ever faced the other in the postseason. Another awful stat: this is the last hurrah.