CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James can hardly contain his excitement. Neither can Dwyane Wade.
Wade made it official on Wednesday, saying he has picked the Cleveland Cavaliers for a one-year, $2.3 million deal. It was finalized shortly after Wade cleared waivers, a necessary step following his buyout agreement struck with the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.
“There’s no better place to be right now to continue to play and compete at the highest level,” Wade wrote in a statement posted on his social media accounts. “Cleveland believes in my talents and what I can bring to a championship contender both as a player and leader. I look forward to reuniting and playing alongside my brother LeBron. We’ve already won two championships together and I hope we get a third.”
James said he feels like a little kid having Wade with him again.
“Come on, man, this is like one of my best friends,” James said Wednesday following the first of two practices. Wade was set to join the Cavaliers at the second one. “It’s kind of like when you start school and you walk into the classroom and you’re not quite sure who your classmates are and when you walk in there and one of your best friends is in there, you’re like: ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be a good class.’
“That’s the type of feeling I got.”
Wade, a 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion, chose Cleveland over Miami and Oklahoma City for a chance to win another title. He also listened to other clubs, including San Antonio.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing for the Chicago Bulls and I feel so fortunate to have fulfilled my dream this past year,” Wade wrote. “The team is now heading in a different direction, which has made me re-evaluate where I need to be in this phase of my career. Being a part of a team that is in the process of rebuilding doesn’t align with where I want to be right now no matter how difficult that decision may be.”
For James, landing Wade is the upcoming season’s first victory.
“I’m happy that we were able to keep him away from everybody else,” he said.
Wade and James spent four seasons together with the Miami Heat, winning two championships and making the Finals four times as a duo as devastating as any in league history. They’ll now join forces on a Cleveland team that is almost unrecognizable following a busy summer in which Kyrie Irving was traded to Boston and the Cavaliers remodeled their roster with the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, former league MVP Derrick Rose and free agents Jeff Green and Jose Calderon.
“We’ve got a lot of options,” said James, who will attempt to reach his eighth straight Finals. “There should be a lot of guys getting open shots or just late contested shots. Efficiency has always been a huge part of myself and D-Wade, and I know didn’t like how he wasn’t as efficient as he can be or has been throughout his career last year.”
The 35-year-old Wade has been tight with James since they broke into the league together in 2003, and their bond has only grown stronger with each passing year.
On the floor — and off — they have a powerful connection.
“I think it’s just the whole honesty thing,” James said in explaining his chemistry with Wade. “When you can be honest with somebody no matter what’s going on and your games translate, it works very easily. He tells me when I (mess up) and I tell him the same thing. We get on each other. We’ve always been like that especially four years that we played with one another and even before that when just used to text. I watched his games and told him things he could’ve done better and vice versa.
“It’s just a brotherhood that we have.”