The Miami Heat (11-14) will hit the road on Monday night to take on the Los Angeles Lakers (16-10). Despite not having a ton of importance in terms of records, the matchup holds a different type of significance.
With Dwyane Wade set to retire following the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, this game marks the last time Wade and LeBron James will play on the same basketball court together. The duo have had notable performances both as teammates and opponents, but regardless of team, what will always be remembered is the love they shared for one another.
They did the unthinkable, putting the NBA in a league-wide frenzy. From tenacious dunks to eye-opening alley oops and from clutch buckets to NBA titles, the two did not disappoint.
With that being said, here are the top five LeBron James and Dwyane Wade moments throughout their careers with and against each other.
5. The Welcoming Ceremony
What better way to explore the top moments than to introduce what all got it started? On July 9th, 2010, the Miami Heat introduced the trio for all of their fans. This came just days after the Heat completed sign-and-trades with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors.
The event gave each player the opportunity to voice their thought and speak their minds. However, the most notable quote came from LeBron James when he talking about future championships. “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” James lightly claimed, resulting in an uproar from the fans in attendance.
The event was covered heavily by the media, and rightfully so. The ceremony marked the first of many grand performances by Wade and James as teammates.
4. January 29, 2012 vs. Chicago
Perhaps one of the most underrated connections between the two came in a 97-93 win over Chicago during the Heat’s eventual championship season. With reigning-MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls were a prime threat to dethrone the Heat from being Eastern Conference champions.
Needless to say, the matchup held a ton of weight. During the play, Mario Chalmers drew in two defenders, leaving James a wide-open baseline path to the cup. That set up one of many alley-oop successes during the four-year stint.
Realizing the strategy, Bulls guard John Lucas III attempted to make up lost ground, but it was too late. With his elite athleticism, LeBron jumped right over the 5-foot-11 Lucas, sending American Airlines Arena into madness.
3. December 6, 2010 vs. Milwaukee
If there’s one picture that sums up the James and Wade duo, it’s this one right here. Most people believe that this was an alley-oop, but that is simply not the case.
Early in the first quarter, Dwyane Wade corralled a long rebound and quickly advanced down court. Out of nowhere, he delivered a no-look bounce pass to a trailing LeBron James. Predicting the result, Wade outstretched his arms just as James cocked back and delivered a ferocious dunk.
The infamous photo depicts the legendary amount of swagger that the two exemplified while on the court together. Alley-oop or not, the pass leading up to the connection and the ensuing celebration from Wade sheds light on the trust that each had for the other.
2. Christmas Day, 2013 vs. Los Angeles
During a primetime matchup on Christmas with everyone watching, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sent the nation into shock. With the first quarter winding down, Wade led a transition effort and threw a no-look alley-oop from just inside the free-throw line to James, who caught it with one hand, cocked back, and delivered a slam all in one motion that brought Staples Center to its feet.
However, the duo was not finished. In the second quarter, LeBron threw an outlet pass to Wade and began to race down the floor. Wade knowingly threw the ball hard off the backboard and watched as James grabbed it with his left hand and acrobatically completed the oop. Social media and sports networks from all around went berserk, but not James and Wade.
The two oops were just a few in the grand scheme, but the setting and national television exposure made them that much more memorable.
1. The First Title
On June 21, 2012 the Miami Heat took down Oklahoma City in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, giving LeBron James his first title.
After coming up short against the Mavericks the year prior, the duo came up big time and time again during the 2011-12 season. With everyone watching, Wade, James, and Bosh captured their first title as teammates, solidifying the Heat as the league’s top team. Although maybe not as notable as the following year’s playoffs, the 2012 postseason transformed their legacy as teammates.
Whether it was alley-oops, clutch shots, or eye-opening passes, the two had a wide range of notable moments. Despite only being teammates for four seasons (and in Cleveland years later), the connection that the they had will always be remembered.
A tandem that sported unmatchable swagger and energy every night, a tandem that risked reputation and took less money to win, a tandem that started the most recent era of super teams, was all made possible because of two players’ love for the game and love for each other.