Dwyane Wade says LeBron James being tired of only winning individual awards made him leave Cavs for Heat

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade recently said that LeBron James’ quest for NBA titles became more important to him than individual awards and was why he left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010.

Wade appeared on the “Point Forward” podcast and spoke about James’ stunning decision to leave the Cavs in favor of the Miami Heat.

“LeBron, at that time, was MVP, scoring champ, all these things,” Wade said. “Those individual accolades is dope, but then at some point, they become — there’s no feeling in it. You get nothing when a season ends. … He was looking like he wanted something more than just those individual accolades. He wanted what everybody say you gotta have to be a great player. You gotta have championships, and he realized he couldn’t do it on his own.”

James was the top overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft and seen by the Cavaliers as an incredibly talented player who could eventually lead the franchise to an NBA title. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 2004 as well as other awards in the years that followed.

Over the next several seasons, the Cavs evolved from a rebuilding team into one that reached the Finals for the first time in 2007. Unfortunately, they were swept in four games in that series by the San Antonio Spurs.

Frustrating postseason eliminations in each of the next three seasons ratcheted up James’ desire to be part of an NBA championship squad. Along the way, efforts by the Cavaliers to successfully build around the superstar came up short.

James’ departure in 2010 was announced on national television, with many Cavs fans erupting in anger. That animosity resurfaced when James made his first visit back to Cleveland in December 2010.

With James joining Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Heat managed to reach the 2011 NBA Finals. However, more frustration developed for James when the Heat lost in six games.

During the subsequent two seasons, James finally broke through and ended up winning Finals MVP honors both years to heighten the thrill of winning back-to-back NBA titles.

After the Heat lost in the Finals in 2014, James rejoined the Cavs. Over the next four seasons, James led the Cavs to four consecutive Finals appearances.

Of course, his performance in the 2016 NBA Finals is still indelibly etched into the minds of Cavaliers fans everywhere. His iconic block late in Game 7 of the series is a highlight that will never fade.

James then left the Cavaliers again in 2018 to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. He helped the Lakers to to a title in 2020, though whether he can again win another championship before his retirement is uncertain.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.