LeBron James is conflicted about his upcoming game against the Miami Heat, and it's not just because he'll be squaring off against the team that did more than any other to build his legend. When James' Lakers take the floor against Miami on Monday, it will be LeBron's last time sharing a floor with his long-time teammate Dwyane Wade.
"It's bitter, and it's sweet," James said on Saturday about the game. "It's sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I've always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court."
Wade is equally excited to see LeBron again. He views the game as a reunion with one of his best friends and also a final chance to compete against one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
"You're always excited to play the Lakers, and obviously, LeBron is there and [it's] our last time matching up, so it's definitely gonna be a little bit extra special than any normal game," Wade said, according to ESPN. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you, 'Oh, it's another one of 82.' No, it's not. Not for me. It's a game where I get to play against not only one of my best friends but one of the game's greatest players for the last time. I want to win as a team, but I want to savor the opportunities."
Lakers center Tyson Chandler entered the league two years ahead of Wade and LeBron, handing the pair one of their two championship losses with the Heat while he played for the Mavericks. He said that he's learned to savor these last-chance games as more and more players in his generation retire.
"Honestly, the older I get and the more I'm in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we're starting to lose along the way," Chandler said. "Guys that mean so much to our generation. I had some crazy competitive games against Dwyane Wade over the years. He's a legend in our game. It's always tough when you know they're losing, but you just embrace the moment. You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors."
James said that he plans to stay in the game a little longer to represent his class. (It definitely helps that James made the jump to the pro game directly out of high school.)
"I got to keep it going," James said. "I got to keep it going for the class of '03, that's for sure. So I love where I'm at right now, and D-Wade has definitely had a helluva career, obviously. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, a three-time champion and so on and so on. I mean, it speaks for itself."