LOS ANGELES — LeBron James emerged with a nail-biting victory in his final regular season meeting with close friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade, as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Miami Heat 108-105 at Staples Center.
James said in the lead-up to the game that he and Wade are like “brothers” and have a bond that will extend long beyond their playing careers. However, both are fierce competitors and gave no quarter when matched up one final time.
The pair went head-to-head on the last possession but Wade lost his footing slightly and fired an extremely off-balance shot toward the basket. As the buzzer sounded the ball ended up in James’ hands, and Wade playfully pushed his old title-winning colleague (with the Miami Heat) before the pair embraced and then swapped jerseys.
“I have been saying all week that it is bitter sweet,” James said. “Every possession it was getting closer and closer to (being) the last one. Lots of emotions knowing I’m losing a brother in this game. That’s my guy, man.”
Wade, who will retire at the end of the season, was given a standing ovation as he entered the game in the first quarter and managed 15 points and 10 assists. But James produced a big performance for L.A., with 28 points alongside 33 for Kyle Kuzma as the team moved to a 17-10 record.
“It’s tough,” Wade said. “This is what you play for, playing against one of the greatest players ever. Whether it was as teammates or opponents we brought the best out of each other. The friendship that we have is beyond basketball, but I’m going to miss this. He’s not only one of the greatest players, but one of the greatest people.”