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Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul reveal why Heat trade failed

Few players have been involved in more “what-ifs” in recent NBA memory than Chris Paul.

The Golden State Warriors point guard has played for six teams in his 19-year career, but any mention of his name will also often invoke one franchise for which he didn’t. In December 2011, news broke that Paul was the centerpiece in a blockbuster trade between the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA, acting as interim owner of the Hornets due to a change in ownership, stepped in to veto the potential deal. Paul would instead be dealt to the LA Clippers, teaming up with Lob City running mates Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan instead of Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Paul’s ascent to stardom didn’t slow down with the move to the blue side of Los Angeles, as he led the NBA in assists twice in his six years with the organization, engineering one of the league’s most exciting squads. But the question of what he could have done in a partnership with Bryant on the Lakers always lingered.

In a new episode of Dwyane Wade’s podcast “The Why,” Paul discusses another potential trade destination that could have altered the NBA landscape — the Miami Heat.

The deal would have placed Paul on one of the most stacked rosters in NBA history, headlined by the Big Three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Wade.

But any real progress on the deal fell through for an unconventional reason — jersey numbers.

“We talk about all this — who gonna have the ball, we can all play together, CP, I can play off the ball,” Wade said. “We figured all that out. Then somebody said, ‘Well, who gonna wear No. 3?'”

Paul and Wade both became icons for wearing the No. 3 uniform, and a trade would have caused a clashing of digits that proved irreconcilable.

“Listen, I sacrificed not getting touches. I sacrificed not getting articles read and not getting the most money, but I am not giving up my number!” Wade exclaimed.

“Because you was older, you probably could have just worn 33,” Paul said.

2011 wouldn’t be the only time buzz for Paul teaming up with Wade emerged. The veteran guard was one-fourth of the ”banana boat” quartet that rocked NBA Twitter in 2015. Paul, Wade and James were spotted on the fruit-shaped inflatable float, with Carmelo Anthony also among the vacationers.

The Heat would go on to win two championships in the Big Three’s four years of action in Miami, making the NBA Finals twice more. With Paul joining the backcourt, an already-dominant offense would likely have shined even more as one of the league’s most entertaining products.

This story originally appeared on ESPN

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