Video: LeBron and Wade Exchange Jerseys in Emotional Final Meeting as Players

LeBron James, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat pose for a photo after exchanging jerseys, as Wade plans to retire at the end of the season, after a 108-105 Laker win at Staples Center on December 10 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

The last meeting between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James was never going to be just another game, and so it proved.

The duo are close friends and went head-to-head for the 31st and final time on Monday night, when the Miami Heat travelled to Los Angeles to face the Lakers. Wade was given a hero's welcome in California, with the Lakers playing a tribute video to honor the future Hall of Famer before the game.

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LeBron and wade exchanged jerseys after embracing each other. #OneLastDance

— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) December 11, 2018

The 36-year-old has received similar tributes throughout the season, after announcing that his 16th NBA campaign would also be his "last dance". Fans and rivals alike have taken time to pay tribute to one of the greatest players the league has seen over the last two decades and the Lakers were no different, playing the tribute on the giant screen at the Staples Center and sharing it via their official Twitter account.

#OneLastDance for a one-of-a-kind player

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 11, 2018

On the court, LeBron edged the final meeting against Wade as the Lakers won 108-105. The four-time MVP scored 28 points in 38 minutes, adding nine rebounds and 12 assists but his most crucial contribution came without the ball in his hand.

With the clock ticking down, LeBron switched onto Wade, forcing his former teammate into an off-balance attempt from beyond the arc that bounced off the glass.

"He knew my move at the end that stopped me from getting to my shot," Wade was quoted by ESPN after the game.

"That's how well we know each other, man. Just two competitors who enjoy the game of basketball, who love each other and love competing. So I'm glad that in my 16 years that we were on the court together, we was in this game, we've made a big impact on and off the court."

Wade, who came off the bench to score all of his 15 points in the second half, then shared a moment with LeBron after the final buzzer, when the two swapped jerseys and a hug. LeBron and Wade came into the league in the same year and played together during the former's four seasons in Miami, which yielded four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and two NBA titles.

"I knew at some point after the game it was going to hit me that this would be the last time we was competing against each other, and it hit me right away once the buzzer sound," Wade added. "And we got an opportunity on the court just to look at each other and be like, 'Man, this has been fun, this has been one helluva ride,' and we've enjoyed it together."

LeBron and wade exchanged jerseys after embracing each other. #OneLastDance

— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) December 11, 2018

LeBron joked he now had some bragging rights over his friend after the win on Monday night gave him a 16-15 lead over Wade in their personal all-time series.

The three-time NBA champion acknowledged without the 36-year-old's contribution his career wouldn't have been as glittering as it has.

"Without D-Wade in my career, I wouldn't be sitting here with this résumé that I have," he said.

"Individually, I think I would still be doing my thing individually, but as far as me accomplishing the team goals that truly mean most to me? Twenty-seven wins in a row. Four straight Finals. Two back-to-back championships. It goes without saying. I wouldn't be able to accomplish it without him."

The win saw the Lakers improve to 17-10, while Miami slipped to 11-15.