Rapper Whodini released the song “Friends” in 1984, with the classic opening line, “Friends, how many of us have them?”—later sampled on rapper Nas’s “If I Ruled The World.”
Everyone needs friends, and though friendships among competitive professional athletes are typically frowned upon, guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade won’t let fans and media pundits ruin their friendship.
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It’s National Best Friends Day, so let’s take a look at five of the best pro athlete friendships in sports. Because, as Whodini rapped, friends are the “ones we can depend on.”
1. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have what is arguably the best friendship in sports. They work out together. They vacation together with their wives.
The two NBA superstars are best buds, but their bond has been met with ridicule from fans and media personalities who feel professional athletes should solely be competitors. James and Wade don’t care. The two have been close since they met at the 2003 NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago. Besides entering the NBA together, they also won two straight NBA titles with the Miami Heat. James and Wade have a bond off the court that’s tighter than most athlete friendships—and they won’t let any naysayers ruin it.
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2. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus
Texas Rangers players Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus love to be around each other. Their on-field antics include playfully fighting for fly balls, with one of them waving his glove to warn the other out of the way. Andrus even helped blow dirt out of Beltre’s eye once. In a recent addition to their on-field jokes, Beltre stared down Andrus in an April game against the Houston Astros for prematurely celebrating a home run that resulted in a double. Beltre and Andrus seem inseparable, and their friendship is arguably one of the best in MLB.
3. Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield
During a 1997 fight, Mike Tyson famously bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off, but somehow the two former heavyweight boxers are good friends today. In 2009, Tyson apologized to Holyfield on Oprah. Holyfield forgave Tyson, and the two have moved on. In February 2013, Tyson visited Holyfield at a Jewel-Osco on the South Side of Chicago, where Tyson said he loves his former opponent.
4. Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki
Tennis stars Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki have competed against each other 11 times. Williams has dominated, winning 10 of their matches. But their social media postings indicate that the two are still good friends. In 2015, Wozniacki posted a collage photo on Instagram displaying pictures with Williams. Williams, meanwhile, was there to help Wozniacki celebrate when she completed the New York City Marathon.
5. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird were rivals in college and battled for NBA titles throughout the 1980s. But a shoe commercial in the middle of that decade brought them together. The two both appeared in Converse’s “Choose Your Weapon” television spot, and the bitter rivals became friends during filming. Initially, Johnson thought Larry Legend was overrated, and Bird viewed Magic as an L.A. showoff. But when the two started talking on the shoot, they quickly realized how much they had in common. The Converse commercial brought them together, and the friendship they formed remains strong to this day.
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