As we all know by now, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is retiring at the end of this season. So every game from now on carries a little more weight than before—especially when Bryant is facing foes he's dueled with numerous times over his long career.
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is one of those names. But when Wade was walking into the Heat's facilities the night before the November 10 clash with the Lakers, he didn't expect to see Kobe Bryant sitting in the cold tub. Why? Because Wade has never seen Heat president Pat Riley let an opposing player into the Heat's facilities like that in his 13 years in Miami. After Wade joined Bryant in the cold tub, he learned that this would probably be the end for the Lakers legend.
NBA on TNT sideline reporter Rachel Nichols chronicled the story Wade told her:
Way too long for 140 characters, but here's the Kobe story Dwyane Wade told me. This was last month, the night before the Heat hosted the Lakers here in Miami. Wade decided to stop by the arena and get in a soak in the cold tub. He goes through the Heat's locker-room area, back over to the training room, and who is already just sitting there in the tub...Kobe Bryant.
Wade told me in the 13 years he’s played for the Heat, he’s never ever seen Pat Riley let an opposing player into the inner sanctum like that, using the team’s facilities and that, frankly, he was shocked. Of course, that's the respect that Kobe has earned, and the two old friends had a great, long talk.
At the end of it, Kobe asked Dwyane if his sons were coming to the game the next night. Dwyane said 'no,' as it was a school night, and Kobe said, 'you know what, bring them; I think it’s going to be my last time here.' Dwyane brought the boys, they got a lifetime memory after the game, taking pictures with Kobe, and the Wade family got a little sneak preview of Kobe's retirement announcement before anyone else.
That anecdote shows how revered and respected Kobe Bryant is around the NBA.
[ Twitter, h/t Rachel Nichols ]