Noah used to dislike Wade, but according to him, one encounter led to a thaw in their relationship.
“Progress was slow,” wrote Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. “Noah was scuffling during one early workout at Pepperdine University when Dwyane Wade unexpectedly set up shop at the opposite end of the gym. Noah did not want his old Miami foe seeing him diminished. ‘I was just playing this guy in the conference finals, and now I can barely move,’ Noah says. ‘I was embarrassed.’
“And then suddenly, without warning or approach, Wade began repeating, ‘Stay with it! Stay with it!’
“‘I’ll never forget that,’ Noah says. ‘God damn, we used to talk so much s— to each other. It was almost like, ‘F— this dude, I can’t even be around this dude.’ And then just little words from the other side of the court. That was a turning point. When you’re in between the lines, there’s no friends. Outside of it, there’s respect.’ (Through a spokesperson, Wade said he remembers the encounter.)”
Noah was once one of the NBA’s better centers. He was known for his rebounding and defense, as well as being arguably the best passing big man in the game.
His Bulls and Wade’s Heat met in the playoffs a couple of times, most notably in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, when Chicago was the top seed.
The Heat won in five games and went on to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the championship series.
Interestingly enough, Wade would suit up for Bulls, his hometown team, several years later. But by then Noah was no longer with the team.
It’s certainly fascinating how players can be fierce rivals on the court, only to eventually become friends off the hardwood, especially over time.