After seven seasons leading the Cleveland Cavaliers but falling short of winning the NBA Finals, LeBron James made a stunning decision in July 2010 that forever altered his career and course of the league.
James left his hometown team in favor of teaming up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. Billed as the first ‘super team,’ the Heat went on to win two championships. There were early growing pains but the big three ultimately forged a strong relationship.
Particularly James and Wade, who remain close friends. They played what likely was their final game against one another on Monday at Staples Center, which was a 108-105 Lakers victory over the Heat.
The game fittingly ended with James and Wade defending one another on the team’s respective final possessions. While they’re again foes after spending a portion of last season as teammates, James championed Wade as being instrumental to his career success.
“I think me personally, I would have been very successful in this league without D-Wade. But to accomplish what I really wanted to accomplish in this league, and that’s winning at the highest level, I needed him,” James admitted.
“And that’s why I made the jump (to Miami). I appreciate more than I can express in words what he did for me when I went down to Miami. You have to think about how I spent the first 25 years of my life in Akron, Ohio. I spent 18 years going through high school and then my first seven years of my professional career I was still living in Akron, Ohio, so that’s all I knew. For me to move down to a place that was foreign to me and my family, and for him to open up that franchise and that city for me and my family and make it so seamless.
“When he’s been there, he’s a staple, it’s Wade County. What we accomplished, I give so much to him, and it just shows what kind of guy he is. I knew that when we met at pre-draft in 2003. I knew it. But sometimes you just need to see it again, and he showed it again. I never had to question that. He’s a stand-up guy.”