The end result - the Los Angeles Lakers eked out a narrow 108-105 victory over the Miami Heat - meant little to either player after the final buzzer. Once the reality of the moment set in, the two legends got emotional knowing their head-to-head battles were over.
"This is what you play for, playing against one of the greatest players ever." said Wade in his postgame interview. "Whether we was teammates or whether we was opponents, we brought the best out of each other. I'm just thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to be drafted the same time as this guy.
"The friendship that we have, you guys know, that's beyond basketball. I'm going to miss this. I'm going to miss the s--- out of this, man."
James and Wade were selected five picks apart in the historic 2003 draft class. They would go on to capture a pair of championships as teammates on the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013 and later reunited on the Cleveland Cavaliers for a short stint last season.
"Like I've been saying all week, it's bittersweet man," said James. "Every possession, he was just like the next one is getting closer and closer to the last one. So a lot of emotions going on right now for me just knowing I'm losing a brother in this game that I've had so many wars with. So many wars on each other together and separate.
"There's no better way than to end it at Staples Center, man. This is my guy, man. This is my guy."
The victory grants James eternal bragging rights as the two entered the matchup possessing an even 15-15 record against each other.
James just missed out on a triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds in 38 minutes to help the Lakers improve to 17-10 on the season. Wade, meanwhile, notched 15 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds off the bench for the now 11-15 Heat.