Dwyane Wade on Last Meeting with LeBron James: 'We'll Always Be Linked Together'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2018

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 27: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat hug after the game on March 27, 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were rivals, teammates and then rivals again, but their friendship has never wavered.

As the two prepare to play their final regular-season game against one another, Wade reflected on their past.

"Out of all the players in the league besides [Udonis Haslem], Bron is one of my closest friends," Wade said, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. "It definitely will mean a little bit more, and just everything in our careers. The paths that we both went down as competitors versus each other and as teammates, we'll always be linked together forever.

"So, it will definitely mean a lot. It's the ending of a chapter in both of our lives. This is just the end of a chapter as competitors on the basketball court."

Wade's Miami Heat are in Los Angeles to visit James' Lakers on Monday. The pair are 15-15 in head-to-head, regular-season contests.

"I'll savor this. We both will," Wade said. "We both had some amazing moments versus each other as competitors. But we obviously had some great moments as teammates. And we're going to be friends forever, but this is the last time we play basketball versus each other. So we'll enjoy it and then we'll savor it.

"Obviously, LeBron is one of my good friends, and the history we have as teammates, as well. It definitely means more than just the average last game versus a team or individual."

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James and Wade were teammates for four seasons in Miami, winning two titles and reaching the Finals four times. Alongside Chris Bosh, it became one of the most influential free-agent moves in sports history.

One could argue James' decision to team with his friend with the Heat created the atmosphere of player movement we see today. Odds are Kevin Durant never feels comfortable enough to join the Golden State Warriors had James not paved the path.

Wade announced he will be retiring at the end of the 2018-19 season in the offseason. He rejoined the Heat via trade in February after a disappointing reunion attempt with James in Cleveland. The latter-career version of Wade proved to be an odd mix on the floor with James, and Cavs utilized him mostly off the bench, a role he's continued in Miami.

"It's bitter, and it's sweet," James told reporters 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, meanwhile, remains the game's best player and is being tasked with resurrecting the Lakers franchise at a time his best friend is walking away. Carmelo Anthony, another member of the Banana Boat group of friends, is currently in a state of limbo after leaving the Houston Rockets after 10 games. Anthony joined the Rockets in part to team with buddy Chris Paul.

If anything, the state of the careers of his contemporaries only shows James' historical greatness even more.