Dwyane Wade Reflects on Epic Rookie Battle Against LeBron James

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Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and his close friend and former teammate LeBron James both entered the NBA as rookies during the 2003-04 season. Thanks to a tweet from Slam, Wade had an opportunity to look back and reflect on one of their meetings during that inaugural year, a tight battle in Cleveland that saw the Heat come up just short, 94-93.

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That game at what was then Gund Arena in Cleveland took place on Jan. 28, 2004, with both teams entering the matchup as struggling teams. The Heat had held a 19-26 record at the time, while the Cavaliers stood at 16-28. Despite those woes, the two teams battled down to the wire as Wade’s buzzer-beating attempt to win the game came up short.

Wade began the game by coming off the bench and played 24 minutes. In that time on the court, he was one of six Heat players to score in double-figures, finishing the night with 15 points. He also handed out five assists and grabbed three rebounds.

James managed to top those numbers in a starting role for the Cavaliers, playing 44 minutes and scoring 27 points. He also hauled down five boards, dished our four assists and collected a pair of steals. Interestingly, James wasn’t the Cavs’ leading scorer that night, an honor that instead went to former Heat player Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The big man ended his evening with 30 points.

Over the years, the two have had additional battles, including one last month in Los Angeles, where James now plays for the Lakers. In a scene similar to that rookie matchup, Wade’s final matchup against James ended with the 16-year veteran missing a shot at the buzzer to give James’ team the win.

Wade can be excused for now reflecting on what will eventually be a Hall of Fame career. In September, he announced that this season would the last of a legendary 16-year career, with a host of more positive memories sure to be reflected upon in the months ahead.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.