The Miami Heat’s semi-annual trips to Cleveland used to be all about LeBron James, but that changed late in the third quarter Tuesday, when the four-time MVP was ejected for the first time in his career, and by game’s end the focus had turned to ex-teammates Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem instead.
Wade and Haslem, who entered the league in 2003 and played 13 seasons together on the Heat from 2003-16, exchanged jerseys in a touching moment on the floor after Cleveland’s 108-97 victory.
— NBA (@NBA) November 29, 2017
“We’re brothers away from the game of basketball,” Wade said of Haslem after the game, via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “He was one of the first men that I told I love him. He’s one of the first men I told him I love him, because I do, I definitely do. He’s a brother.”
And brothers don’t shake hands. Brothers gotta exchange jerseys.
Wade finished with 17 points (on 8-of-16 shooting), five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 28 minutes off the bench, including eight points to help seal the win after James was tossed. Haslem made just his second appearance of the season, going scoreless in five minutes of garbage time.
That’s why Haslem had one concern when exchanging jerseys with his good friend after the game:
“NFL guys do it all the time,” said Haslem, via the Miami Herald, “why not? We talked about it, but the one thing we did say was his would probably be sweaty and mine would probably be dry.”
Wade left the Heat for the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2016, and then rejoined James on the Cavs after the Bulls bought out the remainder of his contract this past October, nearly taking Haslem with him to Cleveland. Haslem is the lone holdover from the Heat roster that went to four straight NBA Finals from 2011-14, and two of Miami’s Big Three were wearing wine and gold on Tuesday night.
The third member of that trio? He was feeling awfully nostalgic watching from home:
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