MIAMI – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade wrapped each other in a pregame embrace, chatted and laughed at halftime, then hugged again after the final buzzer.
Just like old times.
Only this time, just one got to enjoy a victory.
James’ return to Miami as an opponent was a success – for the Heat, that is. Wade scored 24 of his 31 points in the first half, Luol Deng had 25 points and dogged James defensively all night, and the Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-91 in a hyped-up Christmas matchup Thursday.
“We didn’t have a bad breakup,” Wade said. “We played against each other for seven years, man. The weirdness just wasn’t there. It wasn’t like we played against each other our whole career and the breakup happened. We played against each other for seven years, then with each other for a period of time, then he went back to the same situation and I’m in the same place.”
Here’s an example of how their relationship has endured: When James, who returned to Cleveland in the offseason after four seasons and two titles with the Heat, and the Cavaliers landed in South Florida on Wednesday, the four-time NBA MVP went to Wade’s house for a night of Christmas Eve revelry.
James turns 30 on Tuesday. He had questions for the 32-year-old Wade about what changes at that age. That’s what they talked about, no smack about how the Cavaliers are perceived to be a championship contender and how the Heat aren’t even at the .500 mark.
“We only play this game for so long,” said James. “You’ve still got life afterwards. For us we’re going to compete, we’re going to go about our business and do what we need to do in our profession. You’ll never let friendship come in between that.”
It was fitting that they talked about life after 30 – because for the seventh time in their head-to-head meetings, both scored at least 30 points.
James had 30 points and eight assists for the Cavaliers, who got 25 from Kyrie Irving and 14 from Kevin Love.
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