There was one thing Dwyane Wade wanted to accomplish in his final All-Star Game. Points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and minutes didn’t really matter to him.
All Wade wanted to do was throw one last lob to LeBron James.
Wade threw a lob off the backboard for a James alley-oop with 10:21 remaining in the third quarter of Sunday’s All-Star Game played at Spectrum Center in Charlotte. Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 178-164.
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There was also an alley-oop from James to Wade early in the third quarter, with the pair of lobs bringing back memories from their days as Heat teammates during the Big Three era.
“I had some cool moments. I got the moments I wanted,” Wade said. “It feels like this whole weekend has been that way. You visualize something and you hope it goes that way, and it definitely has. It went way beyond what I thought. But to have the moment that I visualized, that’s all I needed.”
Wade, who was selected with Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki as an All-Star by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as “special team roster additions,” finished his 13th and final trip to the All-Star Game before he retires at the end of the season with seven points, two rebounds and four assists in 10:27 of action.
“It’s been a bittersweet moment for me with him,” James said of his close friend and former teammate. “The bitter part is obviously this is the last time being on the same floor together and playing the game we love so much, and obviously all the memories we have, both as competitors, as teammates, so on and so on. ... Then the sweet part of it, seeing him be able to go off on his own terms, saying when he’s done and nobody forced him out or did anything of that nature.”
At the end of the third quarter, a video tribute was played for Wade and Nowitzki. Both future Hall of Famers were presented with a commemorative All-Star jersey.
“That was the moment where I realized that this was the last one,” Wade said of the in-game ceremony. “Obviously going through the whole process, you’re going through everything. But at that moment, being out there on that stage and sitting next to Dirk, I realized that this was it and I was thankful for that moment. The NBA, I’m thankful for everything they did for myself and Dirk to even be here, to be in this environment with the game’s greats. We had fun.”
Wade’s final All-Star Weekend ended with Sunday’s game, but it began Thursday with a surprise dinner to celebrate his 16-year NBA career. It included attendees such as Magic Johnson, Tim Hardaway, Charles Barkley, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
Heat president Pat Riley, owner Micky Arison, CEO Nick Arison, general manager Andy Elisburg and team executive and former player Alonzo Mourning were among those representing the organization in Charlotte for Wade’s final All-Star Weekend.
Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, sons Zaire and Zion, and newborn daughter, Kaavia also made the trip, along with his mother, Jolinda, and father, Dwyane Sr.
Wade will finish his NBA career with All-Star Game averages of 15.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 12 appearances (he missed the 2015 game because of a hamstring injury). Wade was named the game’s MVP in 2010, when he recorded 28 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and five steals.
“This one was special,” Wade said of his final All-Star Weekend as a player. “... I’m just thankful for the NBA for making sure to accommodate everything I wanted and things that I didn’t even think I needed or wanted and they provided it. My team did an amazing job, my family. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of this weekend. It definitely was my most enjoyable. People like to say, what’s your most enjoyable? This one will take place now as my most memorable, most enjoyable All-Star.”