LeBron James will return to Miami Thursday for the first time since leaving the Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers in July. How will Heat fans greet the man who brought them two NBA championships and four Finals appearances, but also left after just four years? If it were up to Dwyane Wade, James would be met with applause and cheers.
"The man helped take us to places we've only been once before he got here," Wade said in an interview with Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. "So I think he should be received very well for that at the start of the game. And then when the game comes on, then do what you've got to do (as fans)."
Later, Wade said "I hope our fans are just appreciative of what he brought to this organization in four years."
Wade opened up on all sort of LeBron-related topics in the interview. He says he and James still speak "very often," which he acknowledged Heat fans wouldn't appreciate or understand. Something else which Heat fans won't be happy reading: Wade said he never actively pushed LeBron to return to the Heat.
"That's all I ever will be is Dwyane the friend," Wade said. "Dwyane the teammate, I'm not that guy. I knew whenever it comes to somebody having to do what's best for them, I'm always going to take myself out of it and give them the best advice I feel I can give. I'm not going to be biased and give them what I think is going to be best for me. I'm going to give them what I feel is best for them, and I've always been that way in any situation.
Wade also talked with Skolnick about his trip with James to Las Vegas just days before LeBron announced he'd be returning to Cleveland. He also offered his thoughts on how the Cavaliers compare to the team the Heat built four years ago.
Thursday will be the first time the Cavaliers and Heat match up this season. Cleveland, after getting off to a slow start, has won seven of its last 10 and is 16-10. Miami, which has been plagued by injuries all season, is 13-15. The game will be at 5 p.m. ET on ABC.