Monday night, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took the court against one another for the 31st time. LeBron’s Lakers did edge Wade’s Heat, but that wasn’t the point. This meeting between the closest of friends would be their last on the court. Afterwards, the result of the contest took a back seat while emotions took over.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 11, 2018
“This is what you play for, playing against one of the greatest players ever,” Wade said during his postgame interview. “Whether we was teammates or whether we was opponents, we brought the best out of each other. … The friendship that we have, you guys know, that’s beyond basketball. I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss the s— out of this, man.”
Back in 2003, LeBron and Wade went just five picks apart. James, of course, went to the Cavs first overall while the Heat took Wade with pick No. 5. With Miami, he’s won three championships and made the All-NBA team eight times. Monday night, he put up 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of action off the bench. However, he did shoot 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.
LeBron, on the other hand, put up a cool 28 points on an efficient 10-of-19 — including 4-of-7 from three-point range. With 12 assists and nine rebounds, he fell just one board shy of yet another triple-double. So, how did he feel at the final whistle?
“Like I’ve been saying all week, it’s bittersweet man,” James told reporters postgame. “Every possession, he was just like the next one is getting closer and closer to the last one. So a lot of emotions going on right now for me just knowing I’m losing a brother in this game that I’ve had so many wars with. So many wars on each other together and separate. … There’s no better way than to end it at Staples Center, man. This is my guy, man. This is my guy.”
With the win, James and the Lakers improve to 17-10. They’ve won two in a row now and are just 1.5 games out of first despite sitting in fifth place. As for Wade and the Heat, they fall to 11-15 as their struggles continue. Still, they have an easy path to a playoff spot. It is the Eastern Conference, after all, and there are already two teams at .500 or worse (Charlotte, Orlando) that are currently in the playoff picture. As things stand, the Heat are just a half-game out of eighth.
Will Wade finish his NBA career on a high note?