There was one last Banana Boat cruise for old times’ sake as Dwyane Wade took the court for the final time as a player Wednesday night.
LeBron James, shut down for the season with his Los Angeles Lakers in turmoil and out of the playoffs, had a front-row seat at Barclays Center in New York along with Chris Paul, whose Houston Rockets await the playoffs, in a reunion of friends from that famous 2015 “banana boat” vacation photo (that also included Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union). Carmelo Anthony, released by the Chicago Bulls in February, made the scene, too.
“Listen, we all started this journey together,” James told Fox Sports Sun. “Obviously, CP came into the league a couple years after us, but we have a brotherhood that is just so much more than basketball. CP played [Tuesday] night, we had our last regular season game last night, and Melo is right here in New York, so we kind of made the plan and made the decision to come up here.”
The three made a grand entrance, taking their seats just as the national anthem was ending and getting quick hugs from Wade.
“Obviously, it means a lot,” Wade said. “They know that I will always be there for them, especially in a moment like this. No matter what I’m doing, I will be there for their last game. It was cool to see those guys over there. I’m glad they came, but at the same time I wish they weren’t here because the whole time they kept telling me to shoot, shoot, shoot. But it was great. We’ve got a brotherhood. Those are my brothers.”
Wade, James’s former teammate in Miami, responded, treating them to a show in the last game of his 16-year career, with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the 113-94 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. It was a festive night, with the three and Union joining fans in urging Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra to put Wade back into the game every time he was given a breather.
Wade has done a jersey exchange with a member of an opposing team all season long, and on Wednesday night it was Anthony’s turn. And Wade squelched any notion that he might reconsider retirement, saying he had never wavered.
"I think everybody knows that this is for real, and I won’t be making a comeback.
“This is it.”
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