HOUSTON -- If Kobe Bryant's season seems tough, imagine what Dwyane Wade went through five years ago.
"I came to All-Star weekend one year, I think we had won nine games. Seriously," Wade said Friday. "I was looking for my 10th win at the All-Star game."
Things sure have changed for his Miami Heat.
Back where they first teamed up as All-Stars in 2006, Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh return as NBA champions who will start together for the Eastern Conference on Sunday night.
Now the misery belongs to Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers, whose season has been so disappointing that Bryant was asked Friday if the All-Star weekend was a "retreat" for him.
"I don't know if it's a retreat, it's just more of an opportunity to get some rest, regroup, put the first half of the season behind us and move on," he said.
As Wade knows, the All-Star break can be just that -- a break -- from a forgettable season (see full story).
Durant loves competing against LeBron
HOUSTON -- Kevin Durant wanted to set the record straight once and for all about his relationship with LeBron James.
"I hate him," he said before breaking into laughter.
Then he got serious.
"We're actually really good friends," he continued. "I think people want us to hate each other so bad just because we're battling against each other."
That doesn't mean he has any good feelings toward him when they pair face each other.
"I like the friendly competition, but when we're on the court we're the furthest thing away from being friends," he said. "We don't take it easy on each other," (see full story).
Hunter's lawyers: NBA union chief's contract valid
HOUSTON -- Unable to secure an invitation to address NBA players directly, embattled union executive director Billy Hunter has released online his response to a report that criticized his leadership.
Hunter's lawyers say his 2010 contract extension was valid and the leave of absence he's been placed on is not. They say if ratification of his contract had been needed, it was president Derek Fisher's responsibility to get it, not Hunter's.
Hunter's contract was a central part of the review conducted by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and released last month. The report urged players to discuss Hunter's future this weekend and said they had "powerful arguments" that the contract wouldn't be legal if an attempt to remove Hunter led to litigation.
Hunter had hoped to attend the players' meeting in Houston on Saturday during All-Star weekend, but he wasn't invited (see full story).