Only one team can win an NBA game. And maybe for the first time in their storied careers, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul faced off against one another while being concerned with far more than coming away victorious. The future Hall of Fame guards and close friends played their final game as opponents on Thursday, as the Houston Rockets erased an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Miami Heat in a 121-118 thriller.
After the game, Wade and Paul swapped jerseys and shared a long embrace at midcourt. That show of affection wasn't enough for the Heat legend, though, who later thanked his “brother” with a heartfelt message on Instagram:
Neither Wade nor Paul played well on Thursday. Twenty-four hours after beating the Golden State Warriors with a banked-in, buzzer-beating 3-pointer – which prompted Paul to send a tweet begging him not to do the same to Houston – Wade looked every bit a future retiree, scoring 12 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Paul, who has been rounding into form of late after a rough initial return from injury, wasn't much better, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists while going 6-of-12 from the field.
James Harden, unsurprisingly, stole the spotlight from the 30-something veterans, pouring in 34 of his 58 points in the second half to bring the short-handed Rockets back from a double-digit hole.
Neither Wade nor Paul seemed to care much about their struggles nor the outcome postgame, though. Houston's point guard, still a few more years to go before hanging it up, followed his retiring friend's lead by honoring Wade on Twitter:
Banana Boat forever.