The plane trip Dwyane Wade took with LeBron James from Las Vegas to Miami at the height of LeBron’s free agency frenzy this past summer soldified their bond off the court. On the flight, Wade put his own hopes on hold and told James to do what was best for him and his family. James returned to Cleveland, but he’ll be back in Miami on Christmas Day and Wade hopes the fans realize all that LeBron did for them during his four years in a Heat uniform.
It’s going to be a mixture,” Wade tells ESPN about what he anticipates will be the fan reaction on Dec. 25 this year. “How I think he should be received is a little bit different. The man helped take us to places we’ve only been once before he got here. So I think he should be received very well for that at the start of the game. And then, when the game [starts], then do what you’ve got to do.”
With James at the forefront, the Heat achieved something no team had done since the mid-80s Celtics, appearing in the NBA Finals in all four years he was with the Heat. True, the Eastern Conference was weak, with an embattled Celtics team growing older and eventually disbanding and a Pacers team that never quite gelled enough to get over the Miami hurdle.
When James’ new-look Cavs take the court on Christmas, the Heat plan to show a highlight video commemorating James’ four-year reign when the Heat won two titles, and James won two NBA Finals MVP awards and two regular season MVP awards.
What’s crazy about Wade and James’ relationship has been how its survived the breakup in Miami, with both claiming it’s stronger than ever:
“Our relationship is so strong, man, that when I decided to make my decision to come back here, [Wade] was one of my biggest supporters,” James said, by way of ESPN.com. “Obviously, he wanted me to stay and he was a big reason why I was teetering back and forth, because it’s bigger than basketball with me and him. It’s like a friendship I can’t explain. It’s like a brother that I never had.”
Wade agrees, placing friendship and the relationships he’s fostered off the court above those on-court battles, which can sometimes cloud the judgement of fans.
“At the end of the day, this is a sport. And I would personally never let a sport come between the relationships I develop,” Wade said of James. “That’s just not the person I am. So LeBron’s decision to go home didn’t affect our relationship at [any] point. We might even talk more now than we did the first time when he wasn’t my teammate. It’s just because we’re used to leaning on each other a little bit.”
We think it’s gonna be a negative reaction, but perhaps we’re always going to think glass half-empty when discussing the attitude of basketball fans (we count ourselves among them, but there’s a tendency towards irrational thought when someone’s beloved team becomes involved in a happening).
Regardless, it’s not something we’re likely to miss, and most NBA fans will be glued to their television sets during the big holiday, hoping for fireworks. The Heat fans will oblige them, but for Wade and James, it’ll also just be a chance to see their buddy.
Who can forget the pair’s high-flying hookups together last Christmas:
Yes, James’ return will be bittersweet for every Heat fan, as Miami struggles to remain in playoff contention without their MVP, but we hope some remember all that he did when learning to become an NBA champion before their very eyes.
Will the Heat fans boo LeBron during introductions?
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