The 2003 NBA Draft had four of the best players of the 2000s. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were a class apart and eventually teamed up to win two rings. But they were never able to face each other during the playoffs. Not only are fans upset about it, but Wade himself too.
During a recent interview, Wade talked about how he wished he would have either played LeBron or Kobe Bryant in the Finals, or at least Eastern Conference Finals.
“I wanted to at least play Bron in the Eastern Conference Finals,” Wade said. “We were so close. Because I’m a competitor. It’s mostly about, being able to have that story, that moment with some of the best players to have played the game. I never got to have that moment in the playoffs. When I was younger, I went to a different level when the playoffs came.”
“So I wanted to be able to see those guys in those moments and stack myself versus them. So if there’s anything in my career that I wish I did, that would be one of the things: I wish I would have played LeBron or Kobe in the Finals.”
Both LeBron and Wade spent their primes in Eastern Conference teams, but not once did they play each other. But there were five different situations where they came close to doing it.
The first was during their sophomore season. Wade and the Heat were the first seed, and LeBron and the Cavs missed the eighth seed spot by one win. There is no doubt that it would have been a lopsided win for the Heat because they had a better team overall. But it would have been a spicy matchup regardless.
There were other chances too. 2006 Conference Finals, 2009 Conference Semifinals, 2015 First Round, and the 2016 Conference Finals. All these opportunities, and some of them, were just one game away from actually happening.
After LeBron moved to the Lakers, the idea of them meeting them again completely died. Because it would have to be the Finals, and nobody predicted the Lakers and Heat to reach that stage. So when that actually happened in the 2020 Playoffs, fans wished Wade had stayed just one season. Maybe some things are just not meant to be.
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