Veteran Dwyane Wade will go up against his best friend LeBron James for the very last time when the Miami Heat play the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Monday night.
The pair ventured into the NBA together, with the Heat drafting Wade at No.5 and James heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers as the No.1 overall pick, but they teamed up in Miami in 2010, winning two titles together and going to four straight finals.
LeBron signed a four-year deal with the Lakers during the offseason. Wade, though, is playing out his final term in the league and Monday's clash with the Lakers will provide him with the last opportunity to go up against James.
“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James told reporters, per ESPN, this past weekend. “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.”
Wade also joined James in Cleveland ahead of last season, after spending a term with the Chicago Bulls, but he was traded back to Miami before the deadline. And even LeBron is unable to explain their bond.
“I don’t know,” James remarked. “Sometimes it’s just chemistry. Sometimes you can’t even explain it. And I bonded with Carmelo [Anthony] when I was in the 10th grade. I bonded with CP3 [Chris Paul] when I was in the 12th, and I bonded with D-Wade when we were both coming into the combine.
“Some things you just can’t explain, and that’s why we have our brotherhood.”
Wade, meanwhile, has admitted that the upcoming game against the Lakers won't be just another game and insists it will be "extra special".
“You’re always excited to play the Lakers, and obviously, LeBron is there and [it’s] our last time matching up, so it’s definitely gonna be a little bit extra special than any normal game,” he explained. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you, ‘Oh, it’s another one of 82.’ No, it’s not. Not for me. It’s a game where I get to play against not only one of my best friends but one of the game’s greatest players for the last time.
“I want to win as a team, but I want to savor the opportunities.”
What This Means
Wade has been giving a game-worn away jersey after every game this season, to either an opposing player or notable attendee.
Of course, we know who's getting that jersey on Monday night. But the 10-14 Heat will hope their veteran guard can put in another top performance to give them their fifth win in their last six games.