MIAMI — Just two months ago, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were teammates in Cleveland. So much has changed since then.
James is now playing on a new-look Cavaliers team that’s found its stride in the middle of a turbulent season. And Wade is now with the Heat after Cleveland traded him to Miami at the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
For James and Wade, it seems like their time together in Cleveland was ages ago.
“It actually seems like it was a long time ago, to be honest,” James said in advance of the Cavaliers’ game against the Heat on Tuesday. “We’ve had like five seasons in one. Me and D-Wade being teammates and being in Cleveland seems like it was years ago. It’s crazy how things change so fast. But I definitely didn’t take it for granted.”
After Wade signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum to join Cleveland, he played 46 games (43 in a bench role) as James’ teammate this season. He averaged 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists with the Cavaliers.
But that short time in Cleveland was full of ups and downs, as the Cavaliers went 18-1 during a 19-game stretch and 7-14 in the next 21 games before general manager Koby Altman rebuilt the roster at the trade deadline.
“I felt like I did everything I needed to do,” Wade said of his time in Cleveland. “Right or wrong, whoever wants to write about it, say about it, I felt when I was there I did everything I needed to do from the standpoint of being a professional, trying to play my best role on the team with the roster we had, speaking up when it was uncomfortable and not speaking up at times as well and keeping my mouth shut. Just trying to figure out my role the couple months I was there.
“If I had to do it all over again in that same position, I would do it the same way while I was there.”
Did Wade see the trade from Cleveland coming?
“I didn’t feel it coming,” he said. “I never concern myself, maybe because I haven’t had to, but when they’re talking about trades and everything you can’t control that as a player, so I never put anything into it. If something is going to happen, you’ll get the call and nowadays you’ll read it on Twitter.
“So for me, I was just going about my days, enjoying my teammates, enjoying the moments we had, and then I got a call. That was it, that chapter was over. It may be a forgotten chapter in my book from whomever (is) writing it, but I definitely if I’m writing it, I’ll definitely put a little blurb about it.
Those days are behind James and Wade, though. The revamped Cavaliers enter Tuesday’s game in Miami on a five-game winning streak, with James averaging 34.4 points on 61.5 percent shooting to go with 9.6 rebounds and 11.2 assists during this stretch.
“As good as I’ve seen him,” Wade said of James’ recent play. “I thought when he was here, there was a point in time when he was shooting 60 percent from the field and I was like, ‘This is the best he’s going to be. This is as good as it gets.’ He’s continued to prove everybody wrong that he finds new levels. In his 15th season, to be 33 years of age and to be playing the way he’s playing, as consistent as he’s playing, that is as impressive as anything that anybody has ever done.”
As far as those two NBA championships Wade and James won together in Miami, those memories still come back to James when he walks into AmericanAirlines Arena.
“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have any emotions or any memories pop up when you walk back into an arena where you had so many games and so many battles and so many great memories,” James said.