"Bigger Than Basketball." This is a phrase that is constantly thrown around when discussing the friendship of NBA superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. It basically means that their friendship is one that goes beyond the basketball court. They remind the fans and their colleagues at every chance they get that their relationship is one that will be just as strong when their playing days are over. With both being top five draft picks in the star-studded 2003 NBA Draft, Wade and James have basically grown up in the NBA together.
Behind the scenes, there's no questioning the connection that these two athletes share. From joint summer vacations to inter-connected families, Wade and James have built a bond that they plan to share forever. Here are the top 15 things you didn't know about their relationship.
16 Where They Met
This part of the story is fairly simple. There was no fairy-tale introduction for the two gentlemen. It all began at a pre-draft workout in 2003. Dwyane recalls that while sitting and waiting to be seen by the doctor, LeBron "randomly walked in" and boom. That's it. The two began to talk and hit it off right away. While they definitely discussed basketball and the upcoming draft, Wade stated that they connected more because of their similar tough upbringings.
Wade grew up on the south side of Chicago in a split home. His parents divorced when he was four, and his mother's drug filled lifestyle landed her in prison when Dwyane turned eight. LeBron, on the other hand, grew up in a home without a father and a mother who struggled financially to keep the family afloat. It's understandable how the two would connect after sharing these stories.
15 Often Stayed at Each Other's Homes During Road Games
After hitting it off during the summer of 2003, James and Wade went on to be drafted first and fifth respectively in the 2003 NBA Draft. During the next few years, the two would forge their bond to the point of becoming as close as brothers. So close in fact, they often ignored NBA tradition in favor of their friendship.
Traditionally, when an NBA team has a road game, they all stay together in a hotel in the respective city. This wasn't the case for the dynamic duo however. Whenever the Cavaliers (LeBron's team) would travel to Miami (Wade's team), or vice versa, the two men would shack up at the others houses instead of at a hotel with the rest of their respective teams. I mean, why not be comfortable at your best friends house if you can? I'm sure it didn't sit well with their teammates however.
14 Both Hate The Misconception That They Don't Play Hard Against Each Other
In professional sports, athletes get paid millions of dollars to go hard at the opposing team/players, no matter who it is. The idea of playing "soft" is sacrilegious, especially in the NBA. But there are those people who believe this is the case between Wade and James. It's no secret that the two are incredibly close and it's raised some questions as to whether they can, or always have played 100 % full throttle against each other. Apparently, this greatly annoys both men.
According to Wade, he has never had a problem taking it to LeBron or any of his other friends in the league. Wade and James both agree that it's ludicrous for them to act like they hate each other when they're on opposing teams. Because it's simply not true. While this isn't the most popular opinion, the two men realize that this isn't the 1980s, and you don't need to shed blood to prove your loyalty.
13 LeBron Has a Winning Record Vs. D-Wade
Obviously not counting their four years together as teammates, or any games in which one sat out, Wade and James have played against each other 28 times in the NBA. LeBron has the 15-13 edge over Wade in these battles. As mentioned earlier, there has always been skepticism that two men that are such good friends can't possibly give it their all against each other. But if you need any more proof that this is false, here you go.
In 28 games Vs. Wade, LeBron is averaging 28 points, five rebounds, and seven assists per game. And on the flip side, Wade averages 26 points, five rebounds, and six assists Vs. LeBron. Two things stand out when viewing these stats. 1) They are almost identical, meaning that the two are virtually neck and neck against each other. And 2) if 28 or 26 points per game is "taking it easy," I'd hate to see what it'd look like if they really went after each other.
12 They've Never Met in the Playoffs
I wouldn't go as far as to call this a dream matchup, because it's still a very real possibility, but LeBron and Wade have never met in the playoffs. Never. Not even once. This is puzzling because both have played in the Eastern Conference for their entire careers. Meaning that each time both of their teams make the playoffs, there's at least three chances for them to meet. But its never happened. But don't think that they haven't thought about it.
James and Wade have both shared their desire to play against each other in the postseason. The closest they've ever come was during the 2016 playoffs. Wade's Miami Heat was one victory away from meeting James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.
11 Taking Their Talents To.....Chi-Town???
During the summer of 2010, LeBron James became a free agent and infamously "Took his talents to South Beach." This allowed him to team up with fellow All Star Chris Bosh and his best friend D-Wade in Miami to form the Super-Heat, or The Heatles, or whatever you like to call them. The trio teamed up and dominated the Eastern Conference for the next four seasons. They amassed four NBA Finals trips in a row and two championships. But, things could've gone differently that summer.
D-Wade was also a free agent that summer, and recalls that he and LeBron definitely wanted to team up, but were seriously considering Chicago as their landing place, not Miami. It would've given the two a chance to play together in Wade's hometown with a young Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. However, Miami turned the tables when they signed Chris Bosh and informed Wade and James that there was a way to sign all three to the Heat. And the rest is history.
9 Wade Was The Most Supportive When LeBron Left Miami
After four straight years of NBA Finals appearances, the Miami Heat's "Big Three" broke up upon LeBron's decision to return home to Cleveland. The move obviously had catastrophic implications on both the Heat and Cavaliers organizations. I mean, how do you rebound from losing the best player in the league? But that's beside the point. James' decision was met with a ton of criticism, and some people expected one of the loudest critics to be Dwyane Wade. But Wade went the opposite direction.
Sticking true to their "Bigger Than Basketball" mantra, Wade actually turned out to be one of LeBron's biggest supporters. Of course D-Wade had every right to be upset at LeBron. He left what could've been the next great dynasty in favor of playing for Cleveland. But Wade realized that the happiness of his best friend was way more important in the grand scheme of things. However, not everyone was able to turn the other cheek.
8 Pat Riley Hates Their Friendship
As expected, Miami Heat President Pat Riley was not a happy man when LeBron left Miami for Cleveland. In fact, he took more of a Dan Gilbert approach than a D-Wade approach. Since then, Riley has had some choice words not only for LeBron, but for his friendship with Wade, and anyone else who wants to call themselves friends in the NBA.
We can't really blame Riley for this attitude however. He made his mark in the NBA during the 1970s and '80s. It was a time where players exchanged fists and clotheslines rather than hugs and handshakes. Riley has been one of the loudest critics of this friendship and has often chided Wade during his Miami days for his involvement with James. Riley doesn't have to worry about them anymore however, since both have since left the team.
7 World Series Bet
I'm sure by this point everyone has heard this story but it's definitely worth telling again. LeBron and Wade must have been thrilled to learn that the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs would be facing off in this year's World Series. So they decided to place a friendly wager on the outcome. The loser would have to don the winning team's baseball uniform from head to toe.
In an ironic and cruel turn of events, it was James' hometown Cleveland Indians that blew a 3-1 lead (sound familiar?) to the Chicago Cubs, making James the loser of this bet. And like the sportsman he truly is, LeBron showed up in Chicago on the night of the Bulls-Cavs game dressed in full Chicago Cub gear. It must've been a tough pill to swallow, but it'll go down as another chapter in this storied friendship.
6 LeBron Orders Food For Dwyane at Dinner
I'm sure if LeBron were an attractive female, this would be a little more troublesome than it is. But since that's not the case, we can laugh at it. Wade's wife Gabrielle Union has admitted to watching James on several occasions order food for D-Wade at restaurants. She recalls that often times when the Wade and James' families go out to eat, LeBron will order a meal for D-Wade if he's not at the table and have it be spot on. Union admits that LeBron probably knows way more about her husband than she does.
As mentioned earlier, if LeBron were a woman I'm sure Gabrielle might feel a little threatened knowing that someone else was closer to her husband than she. But since it's LeBron, we can all sit back and enjoy how goofy of a story that it is.
5 Wade Leaned on LeBron After Winning His Custody Battle
In March of 2011, Wade won a custody battle with his ex-wife, for full custody of his sons. Before Gabrielle Union, Wade was married to a woman named Siohvaughn Funches. Together they had two sons, but separated in 2007, before actually divorcing, in 2010. So after the emotional toll of a long court battle, Wade needed someone to lean on and be there for him. In comes his best friend LeBron.
Wade recalls that not only did he lean on 'Bron for support and a friendly ear very often, but that James also helped him learn how to become a full time parent again. James had to coach Wade on simple things like sleep schedules and how to get the kids to school on time. Just another example of how close the two have become over the years.
4 The Brotherhood
Although Wade and James are the best of friends, they are both part of a group that they have dubbed, "The Brotherhood." The other two members of the group are none other than Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was part of the famed 2003 draft class, meaning he started at the same time as Wade and James. And although Paul wasn't drafted until 2005, he met LeBron years earlier when the two were in high school.
Together, these four men have used their platform to raise awareness for political and social injustices. Their families are all very close, and in recent news, all four have discussed their willingness to play together on the same team before their respective careers end.
3 Their Families Plan Summer Vacations Together
One of the benefits of having your families become extremely close, is you'll forever have someone to make memories with. Such is the case with the Brotherhood. The four men are so close that their families all partake in vacation planning every summer. That's where we got the infamous 'banana boat photo' from.
It's been said that most of the big decisions in the careers of these four men has been discussed during these epic family vacations. Including Carmelo's New York future, LeBron's decision ,and Wade's departure from Miami. Its obvious that the bond of these men is close, and there isn't a better way to show it than on a banana boat with your buds.
2 The Next Generation?
One thing that will make any father very proud is when his son decides to follow in his footsteps and carry on his legacy. This seems to be the case as LeBron's sons (Bryce and LeBron Jr.) and D-Wade's older son (Zaire) have all picked up basketball. Not only have they all picked it up, but each is incredibly skilled and already resemble their respective fathers. Being that all three boys are around the same age (14, 12, 9), it's a very real possibility that we'll see them in the league together within the next decade. If they decided to stay on the B-Ball course.
According to LeBron, his sons are already receiving college basketball scholarship offers from the top schools in the country. In present day, it's hard to imagine an NBA where LeBron and Wade aren't playing. But that day will eventually come, and their sons might be right behind them to pick up where their dads left off.
1 They Do Use The L-Word
When asked if he and LeBron use the L-Word with each other, Dwyane Wade quickly responded that he obviously doesn't tell 'Bron that he loves him like he would his wife. But did admit that the two men have no problem expressing their brotherly love for one another, often ending conversations by saying it. Wade expresses that since they are both secure with their manhood and their friendship, he doesn't see any issues with telling LeBron that he loves him.
The two have a friendship that has expanded beyond the basketball court and will hopefully last forever. It's rare to find someone to genuinely call a friend, but Wade and James have made it look easy over the last 13 years. If there's anything that their relationship has taught us, it's to hold on to true friends because they don't come along that often in life. Here's to #bestfriendgoals.