When Dwyane Wade eventually re-signed with the Miami Heat this past summer, he announced the 2018-19 NBA season would also be his last.
As there are only five active players remaining from the 2003 NBA Draft, it feels like yesterday when LeBron James and Wade were selected with the No. 1 and 5 picks, respectively.
With so many memories as teammates and competitors, Wade was actually on paternity leave when James had a 51-point performance in Miami.
Now, less than a month later in Los Angeles, Wade gets an opportunity to share the court with James for the final time. “You guys see the record is 15 and 15 and that’s how it’s been you know we’ve had amazing moments versus each other,” Wade said of playing opposite James.
“Doesn’t mean each game has came down to the wire but we’ve enjoyed each one of them. So I look forward to it, to enjoying the matchup. You know each guy wanna win for their respective teams. Each guy want to play well. So hopefully on our side we win and I play well but just want to savor it.”
As James detailed at shootaround, he and Wade began their friendship at the Draft Combine. “My personality, LeBron was so loud and young when he came in and I was more calm and chill and I had a kid and I was married. So he needed a little someone more stable,” Wade said.
“I think it just all worked. Like you said we met in that room in the combine and we’ve been friends ever since and we continue to be as the game ends but as competitors I think we’ve helped each other go to a different level in this game of basketball going against each other and as teammates and so we have so much love and respect for each other because of that.
“So it’s been great. Whether we was on opposite sides of the coin when he was in Cleveland and I was in Miami and you know we get together and we talk about life at home. We sit down and we drink a glass of wine and you know we go out to dinner, we go to movies when we was young and just all these things whether we was teammates on the back of the bus or whether we were on a plane.
“We talk about different things, about life, about our kids. It’s about so many things, about our parents. There’s a lot of things we discussed and talked about over these years that helped us grow as individuals and it was great to be able to have somebody to go through this journey together like that throughout my 16 years.”
Since it will be an emotional game, James described the final matchup as ‘sweet and sour.’ With both players healthy, they will be looking to out-duel each other.
As Wade is set to turn 37 years old, he has had an incredible journey to the NBA and is arguably the third greatest shooting guard of all time behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.