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Dwyane Wade Says Friendships with LeBron James, Chris Bosh 'Shifted' NBA Culture

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2018

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, shakes hands with Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James at the end of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade entered the NBA in 2003, and as one of them prepares to hang up his sneakers, the two future Hall of Famers understand the impact they've had on the league.

After James and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled out a 108-105 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday, Wade explained that influence, per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

"We definitely were a part of shifting the culture. I don't want to say changing it, we shifted a little bit. Even from the start with us, being so close, going out to eat, going to movies, etc., then go out and play each other the next night. People didn't understand that at first. But we shifted the culture of how you can still compete, you can still be great and push each other. It's not for everyone. You got the Mamba mentality, if it's not for Giannis, it's not for everybody. It's something that worked for us. We clicked from the beginning, and we've pushed each other and helped each other's career[s] go up another level and another notch. So he's been great for me, and I've been great for him."

James echoed those sentiments.

"Some people say you shouldn't be friends with your competitors because you still can't compete," James said, per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "And I think people have seen that and recognize that even with our friendship, we competed against each other, we pushed each other when we were playing against each other."

Wade and James have a relationship that covers the better part of two decades. They spent 11 years in the Eastern Conference as opponents as well as four seasons as teammates in Miami (as well as with Chris Bosh), not to mention part of last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Through it all, they have been there to push each other.

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Meanwhile, the buddy-buddy nature of today's NBA has some former players questioning this generation. But they're not alone, as at least one current NBA star refuses to engage in such behavior.

"I can't work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months," Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said Friday, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. "It feels weird. It doesn't feel right with me. Like other players, it's cool for other players, but I don't. I don't want to. Other guys do it."

"I hate it when…" Antetokounmpo said while doing a mock pose for a picture. "I hate that. I don't want [opponents] to see me to be buddy-buddy with me."

While not everyone is on board with being best friends with the competition, it has worked for James and Wade. Each star has won three NBA championships, including two together in 2012 and 2013, and they have combined to earn 26 (and counting) All-Star selections.

Now that Wade intends to retire after the season, he can walk away knowing that he, James and Bosh helped shape the league.

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