It was the last time these two men would share a court, and it was an emotional farewell as they hugged and exchanged jerseys, the cameras and mics picking up every moment.
Including when Wade thanked LeBron for seeing that their last game was played at Staples Center, one of the legendary venues of the league. But it was LeBron’s response that turned heads:
“It was either here or The Garden. That’s it.”
Did the Knicks actually have a shot at LeBron last summer?
It doesn’t seem that way, considering LeBron made his decision to go to Los Angeles within 24 hours of the official start of free agency. There was no meeting with the Knicks, no serious contact in any way.
What LeBron was referring to (I think) was having their final game in one of the two brightest spotlights, one of the two most legendary venues in the NBA. Madison Square Garden and Staples Center have a vibe before Knicks and Lakers games that just doesn’t exist anywhere else — even when their teams are bad the venues are special and guys raise their games. It’s a combination of the markets, the big fan bases, and the history of the franchises, and the buildings (Shaq and Kobe basically built Staples Center). Much like a baseball game at Yankee Stadium/Fenway Park/Wrigley Field, there’s just something special about it that’s hard to quantify. It’s just different there.
That’s why the final game for LeBron and Wade had to be in Los Angeles or New York.
But Knicks fans, go ahead and dream of what might have been.