LeBron James and Dwayne Wade squared off for one last time on Monday night and it was James and the Lakers who prevailed in a 108-105 victory over the Miami Heats at the Staples Center.
Dwayne Wade produced 15 points and 10 assists in what was his last game at Los Angeles, with LeBron James scoring 28 for the Lakers.
James and Wade arrived in the NBA together as part of a star-studded draft in 2003 and formed one of the most famous rivalries and closest friendships over the course of their careers.
They won back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013 as team-mates at the Miami Heats and have faced each other as rivals 31 times in the NBA.
Wade, who is retiring after the 2018 season scored 15 points off the bench for Miami but could not stop a rampaging LeBron as he took charge of the contest in the fourth quarter to finish with 28 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists.
Justise Winslow led Miami’s scoring with 28 points.
The Lakers win means James finished with 16 wins to Wade’s 15 in head-to-head meetings between the two players.
The two NBA icons embraced at the buzzer before swapping jerseys.
“It’s bitter-sweet man,” said James. “A lot of emotions for me right now, just knowing that I’m losing a brother in this game that I’ve had so many wars against, so many wars together.
“There’s no better way to end it than here at the Staples Center. We’re going to miss him in this league. That’s for sure.”
Wade paid an emotional tribute to James. “It’s tough,” he said. “This is what you play for, playing against one of the greatest players ever.
“Whether we were team-mates or whether we were opponents, we brought the best out of each other. I’m just so grateful to have been drafted at the same time as this guy.
“The friendship we have is beyond basketball. But I’m going to miss the shit out of this.”
The win saw the Lakers improve to 17-10 in the Western Conference and was another sign that James’s arrival is starting to bear fruit.
Wade said he is confident James will be able to transform the Lakers into championship contenders.
“He can do anything he wants. He’s shown that, he’s proven that,” he said. “I have no doubt this team will be in the finals at some point.”