Dwyane Wade calls 2016 Finals LeBron James' defining moment

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Thursday, January 5, 2017

CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade believes that LeBron James' performance in leading the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit to the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals is "a defining moment" for his close friend's legacy.

"That was special," Wade said Wednesday, before the Bulls beat the Cavaliers106-94. "That was incredible. We've seen a lot, we haven't seen, obviously, teams come back from [being down] 3-1 in playoffs that much but especially in the Finals. And not having home-court advantage, that was really special what those guys were able to do, obviously led by Bron.

"I think for his career, that moment right there really put him where he probably wanted to be, where everybody thought he was going to be one day when he was deemed as 'The Chosen One.' It was a defining moment for his career forever. So it was special."

Wade and James have developed a special bond over their 14-year careers. The pair won two championships together with the Heat and have remained close since James decided to leave Miami and go back to the Cavaliers after the 2013-14 season.

"It just evolved 14 years ago as rookies, and [we] just developed a brotherhood," Wade said of his relationship with James. "But when it comes to sacrificing, you sacrifice for the greater good of the reason we play a team sport. Once you're young and you get all the recognition and you get paid -- you want to win championships. And I think I sacrificed to win championships.

"I don't look at that as a sacrifice when it comes to minutes, numbers, publicity, all that, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the goal was to win championships, and we were able to win two together and play in four [Finals]. That's what you play the game for, and I'm happy about that."

Wade said James and Kobe Bryant have been the two hardest players he has had to guard in his career.

"For me, one, two -- however you want to put them -- is him and Kobe," Wade said. "I've had to guard Kobe more, so I've been in that battle a little more with Kobe. But LeBron is -- he's unlike a player we've ... we've never seen a player like him. We've seen Magic [Johnson], they've got a similar style. But what he does in a game and how he affects games, it's just -- I haven't seen it. I haven't went against it. But him and Kobe for sure are the hardest and toughest guys that I've ever had to play against."

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