This has to be one of the friendliest rivalries in sports. Yet it's not what you envision a rivalry to be. Most people see constant trash talking from one superstar to the other. Guarding each other with the game on the line.
LeBron James vs Dwyane Wade has that competitiveness but they've managed to do what most people can't...remain best friends while doing it. Their love for the game fuels their performance but their love for each other is genuine.
You just don't see that in modern day sports because it's seen as a sign of weakness. If your opponent wants to talk to you, it's to get into your head and masterfully beat you. Here we have two athletes that show the same care for each other on and off the court. I'm lucky as hell to witness it since their rookie season. Since 2003, LeBron and Dwyane have been almost inseparable and for four years they we saw how close they are.
When LeBron landed in Miami he only had one thing to do and that was to visit his best friend. These two have not only grown as basketball players over the years but as men they grew in age in wisdom. Got married and had kids. These life experiences are what outweigh whatever performance we as fans see on the floor.
In 2009, there was a game where LeBron won dropping 30 while Wade dropped 32 in a losing effort. It was the Anderson Varejao dunk game in case you don't remember.
We can take it even further back to 2006 in the Heat title season, where Wade had 44 points and 9 assists while LeBron had 47 points 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss.
Yesterday was no different. LeBron had 30 points and 8 assists while Wade had 31 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The point is these two bring out the best in each other on the court while being the best for each other off it.
There is no self benefit in this superstar relationship. For many fans and media it's a dynamic that has become hard to comprehend. How can Wade not be angry at Lebron? He took less money so LeBron could take more AND so that the Heat can add talent to this roster. Yet LeBron left and all Wade has done is talk about how much of a blessing LeBron has been in life.
LeBron afterwards "It brought back old times and the battles we had. Once again, we put up 30 on each other, and it's always fun to compete against such a great friend."
After the game the love for each other was no different. No matter how much Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith or anyone else at ESPN tries to angle these two against each other, the admiration for each other continues to stay true. After the game there was even an Instagram exchange between the two:
Will LeBron have success with the Cleveland Cavaliers as much as he had success in Miami? It's tough to say now even though I had the Cavs winning it all in the beginning of the year. His big men is out for the year and his two sidekicks have yet to play in the postseason OR play consistent defense in the regular season.
He has a young squad that may get title but not it doesn't seem to be happening in the near future. Wade and Chris Bosh were veterans that could come up huge in games as well as take a backseat to LeBron. These two teams might be playing in the first round and it will be a fun series but it won't ever be a nasty rivalry. Not as long as these two faces are the faces of each franchise.
I admire these two for what they have shown over the years. It's a connection that should be an example for all of us. LeBron vs Wade will always be competitive but the best part about these two is their ability to show that at the end of the day they are more than elite athletes on two teams. They're two grown men who have managed to become champions and best friends.