Stephen A. Smith’s irate response to LeBron James missing Dwyane Wade’s Hall of Fame enshrinement

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read

Dwyane Wade was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month without LeBron James in attendance at the ceremony, and Stephen A. Smith said the Los Angeles Lakers star should have been there to recognize everything Wade did for him when he first arrived to the Miami Heat.

Smith was very careful to mention the health status of James’ son Bronny, who suffered a cardiac arrest in July, and said if that was the reason the elder James was not at Wade’s ceremony, it was perfectly understandable.

But the excitable ESPN pundit then explained why the elder James owes Wade so much, even saying the four-time NBA champion might never have become one if not for the Heat legend and organization that “coddled him.”

“Where he was psychologically, where he was mentally and emotionally when he first arrived in South Beach, people forget this,” Smith said of the elder James. “Dwyane Wade sat by LeBron James side for practically every single interview he did that year. I’m not saying every one of them, I mean, maybe later on in the playoffs. … But I remember, he was never alone.

“He was so psyched out mentally and emotionally that Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat organization essentially coddled him. They gave LeBron the blueprint, not just collectively, not just culturally, but individually to know how to win.

“And Dwyane Wade, although smaller and certainly inferior as a talent to LeBron James, was the big brother.”

The elder James famously left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent to sign with the Heat for the 2010-11 NBA season with “The Decision” television announcement adding to the spectacle. A famous press conference with the elder James counting off how many championships he would win with Wade and Chris Bosh followed.

Miami made the 2011 NBA Finals in the first season of that Big 3 era but lost to the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat then won titles in 2012 and 2013 with victories over the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs before losing the 2014 Finals to the Spurs.

After that, the elder James then returned to Cleveland and brought the city its first and so far only NBA championship in 2016. Wade remained with Miami for two seasons followed by brief stints with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers (as James’ teammate) before ending his career with the Heat in 2019.

The younger James appears to be recovering from his medical emergency, though it is unknown if he will be able to continue his basketball career at the University of Southern California, where he is about to enter his freshman season.

Now entering his sixth season with the Lakers, the elder James captured another title in 2020 and remains in pursuit of a fifth championship as he is about to play his 21st NBA campaign.

Based on the opinion of Smith, the elder James likely will have to mention Wade as an important component of his career when he eventually makes his own Hall of Fame enshrinement speech.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.