LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Are Best Friends but Actually Had an Awkward First Encounter

When NBA fans think of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, they, of course, think of the championships they won together on the Miami Heat. They also, though, think of their close friendship. However, despite being best friends, the two future Hall of Famers actually had an awkward first encounter back in 2003.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are close friends

Former Miami Heat teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
LeBron James (from left) and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat during a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 7, 2012. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade entered the NBA together and ultimately became good friends while doing so. James was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft with the Cavaliers, while Wade was the No. 5 overall pick in that same draft with the Heat.

They then grew closer during LeBron James’ first stint in Cleveland, which led to James joining Wade on the Miami Heat in 2010. Their bond, though, then became even stronger while playing together in Miami. This is due to the two stars ultimately being there for each other during some tough times — one being when Wade went through an ugly custody battle with his ex-wife.

“(Having LeBron as his friend) definitely was huge for me when I was going through an ugly divorce that I went through, and an ugly custody battle with the kids, to know that, ‘Hey deal with what you gotta deal with; We got you on this end,’” Wade said to ESPN in 2017.

They also had to overcome the challenge of losing in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks during their first season together.

“When we lost in the Finals in that first year, to be in those moments and be very vulnerable in those moments and not care that the other person see you in that space — that helps the relationship grow,” Wade said to ESPN.

The two future Hall of Famers have certainly seen each other in some great moments and some difficult ones. However, although they have developed a strong friendship, James and Wade had an awkward first encounter.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had an awkward first encounter

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As mentioned above, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were in the same draft class together. This led to the two of them first crossing paths at a pre-draft event.

While at that event, Wade was in the training room, waiting in line for quite some time. He was then next to go when James came in and cut him in line.

“I’ve been there for a long time,” Wade said to James and Rachel Nichols of ESPN in 2017. “You could’ve came in and [been] like ‘Nah, let D. Wade go first. He been here longer.’ You just came in like ‘I’m the number one pick. This is my draft. Move out the way.’”

Wade said that moment was their first conversation ever. Despite it being awkward, though, it actually helped form their tight friendship.

“It was just like an instant kind of, you’ve got a connection with somebody,” Wade said to ESPN.

The two stars then ultimately went from being those young athletes in 2003 to becoming NBA legends.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are NBA legends

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After going to their teams in the 2003 NBA draft, Wade won an NBA championship with the Heat in 2006. James, on the other hand, took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 and won two MVP awards in Cleveland.

However, in 2010, James, Wade, and Chris Bosh joined forces, and created one of the most dominant teams of all-time in Miami. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh led the Heat to four straight NBA Finals appearances and won two championships.

After seeing James go back to Cleveland in 2014-15, and switching teams a couple of times himself, Wade then retired from the NBA after the 2018-19 season. He earned 13 All-Star selections, led the NBA in scoring in one season, and was a three-time NBA champion.

James, on the other hand, went to eight consecutive NBA Finals with the Heat and Cavaliers from 2010-11 through 2017-18. He also won one title with the Cavs in 2015-16. James then ultimately won his fourth championship with the LA Lakers in 2019-20, as he played in his ninth NBA Finals in 10 seasons. Overall, James has earned 17 All-Star selections, four MVP awards, four NBA Finals MVP awards, and he is third overall in NBA history in total points.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade ultimately became basketball icons and great friends. Their relationship, though, all started with James cutting Wade in line.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference