The Dwyane Wade retirement tour has turned the end of every Miami Heat game this season into a guessing game of sorts: who will the outgoing No. 3 give his jersey to in the post-game? Sure, some are obvious: Of course he was going to trade with LeBron James in their last meeting back in December, or with the semi-salty Dirk Nowitzki last month. Other choices, however, have been more out of left field.
On Monday night, Wade played the jersey exchange perfectly by remembering the influence he’s had on a new generation of NBA players: the Heat legend exchanged jerseys with Atlanta Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter following Miami’s 114-113 win in South Beach. The reason? He knew Huerter wore the No. 3 because of Wade himself:
The 20-year-old Huerter is in his first season in the NBA out of the University of Maryland, averaging 9.4 points per game to go with 39 percent shooting from deep. Despite being inspired to pick Wade’s number (and wear his shoes as a kid), you wouldn’t say that Huerter and Wade are similar types of players at all, particularly when comparing their early days in the NBA. Wade was more of a slasher, and only clocked in at a generous 6-foot-4, while Huerter is a more traditional swingman shooter, measuring in 6-foot-7, which is almost prototypical height for the position.
No matter, though; Wade told Fox Sports’ Jason Jackson after the game that swapping jerseys with Huerter was the plan since earlier in the season:
Earlier in the year, a good friend of mine told me about him when he was younger, that he used to wear my shoes. He wore number 3 because of me, he looked up to me. So I knew I was going to surprise him the last time we played them. But I really like his game. He’s someone, since preseason when we played them all the way until now, he’s gotten so much better, so from one number 3 to another, I thought I’d switch jerseys with him.
Wade had another reason to feel joyful on Monday; with the win over the Hawks, the Heat have won three straight for the first time this season, pushing them into a virtual tie with the Magic and the Hornets for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.