"It just makes me ill," he says, when asked about Wade-James relationship. ("Bull crap," Wade will say.) But either way: such conviction is rooted in more than just strategy. Never mind that, on the court, the two rivals remained unimpeachable competitors.(Never mind that, by modern standards, the 30-second ad is comically quaint.) "It was shocking," Maxwell recalls.That whole week, Wade recalls, "We started looking for each other: "So many headlines later, their apparently magnetized trajectories cannot help but intrigue and irritate us still.Well before the Eastern Conference finals, James told reporters that opposing Wade in the postseason was something they've "always talked about" and something he's "always wanted." And when the Heat were eliminated by the Raptors in seven games this past Sunday -- robbing Wade, 34, and James, 31, of that opportunity -- you could hear the cheers from sports fans who hated the TMZ-targeted duo when they teamed up in Miami, controversially, six years ago."If we played 'The Newlywed Game,'" Union admits, "I don't know if I'd have more information on my husband than Bron would."Wade laughs."Me and Bron would know waaay more," he says."Obviously."A recent playoff practice has just ended inside Miami's American Airlines Arena, and Wade, still in uniform, is thoughtfully marshaling proof while perched on a tall brown chair.On-court effort, after all, isn't really why Heat president Pat Riley quietly detests the Wade-James friendship.It isn't really why TNT's Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, like much of this country, ridiculed James' March workout with Wade in Miami, which their trainer put on Snapchat.
And it isn't really why so many fans feel that this friendship is the opposite of what sports should be."Bron got me on sea bass."There are, by Union's eye-rolling estimates, "a thousand and one instances like this" -- each of them underscoring a rapport as heartfelt as it is quotidian.Like how often Wade and James trade not only text messages but voice notes, shamelessly played on speakerphone.How often did NBA teams think about the rabid audiences cheering their on-court hate? Our calculation was about being scrutinized by our ."The distinction is crucial.
So many fans pine for a time when stars showed us the courtesy of defending a team logo as obsessively as we did."They think it has to be one way."Any fan put off by two buddies who opt to join forces rather than remain locked in combat would have loved the enmity of 30 years ago.