LeBron James had decided to leave Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers long before he announced the trade, according to his old team-mate Dwyane Wade.
This summer, James quit the Cleveland Cavaliers to become a free agent, before signing a lucrative five-year deal at the Lakers. He left his home state franchise having delivered their first major sports title in more than 50 years as the Cavs won the 2016 NBA Championship.
Wade, who played alongside James for the Miami Heat from 2010 to 2014, admitted he knew about The King’s plan a year in advance. He joined the Cavaliers in a free agency deal, after he bought out his contract from the Chicago Bulls.
Although he didn’t spend a lot of time with James in Cleveland, Wade holds no bad feelings, and insisted that he signed knowing that it would probably be only a one-season link-up with the megastar.
His main reason for moving to Cleveland was the possibility of appearing in the NBA Finals with the Cavs, he said. However, he ended up being traded to Miami in February.
But the shooting guard revealed that he knew of James’ intentions to leave for Los Angeles before anyone else.
“LeBron, first of all, he’s a guy who always plays his cards close to the vest,” he said.
“But I knew his ultimate goal was to be in Los Angeles.
“He recruited me and he talked to me about signing there (Cleveland), and I said, ‘Listen, I know you might not be there long, you’re gonna be a free agent and there are some things that might happen, and we’ll have a conversation.’
“I just thought I’d make it through the season first.
“It wasn’t like he came out said ‘Oh, you’re traded, I’m going to the Lakers,’ but like I said, I knew where his heart was and what he was thinking big picture.”
Wade and James played against each other for the last time on December 10 as the Lakers defeated the Heat, and James had nothing but complimentary words for the Heat legend.
“Some people say you shouldn’t be friends with your competitors,” James said.
“But even with our friendship, we competed against each other and we pushed each other.”