Dwyane Wade is wrapping up his basketball career by continuing to inspire players just beginning theirs.
The Miami Heat shooting guard, 37, shared a heartwarming moment with Atlanta Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter as the two exchanged jerseys following the Heat’s win over the Hawks Monday.
Wade – who is set to retire at the end of this season – has swapped jerseys with plenty of other players throughout the season, but said he chose Huerter after hearing that the 20-year-old idolized him growing up.
“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 No. 3 because of me, he looked up to me,” Wade told Fox Sports.
“So I knew I was gonna surprise him the last time we played him. He’s someone since pre-season when we played him, all the way until now, he’s gotten so much better. So from one No. 3 to another, I thought I’d switch jerseys with him.”
Wade added on Instagram of Huerter, “Thanks for the love. The kid can hoop.”
Huerter was a first-round draft pick this year out of the University of Maryland.
He explained that he has long admired Wade for being a loyal player and a stand-up guy off the court.
“He’s always done it the right way. You never hear him with off-court type of stuff. He brought championships to this city,” Huerter said, according to CBS Sports. “He’s been with the Heat for the majority of his career. He’s been loyal to them. And as a guy coming up, a young guy, starting out with the Hawks, I hope I can continue a long career with them. The league’s going to miss him, for sure.”
The athlete also reflected on the moment on Instagram, writing that it was “surreal.”
Wade announced in September he’d return to Miami for “one last dance” before calling it quits on his legendary career.
Throughout the season, he’s had multiple ceremonial jersey exchanges, including with the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki after years of feuding, and with Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets.
The most memorable swap came in December when he faced off against friend and former teammate LeBron James for the last time.
“It’s tough. This is what you play for, playing against one of the greatest players ever,” Wade said after the game in a joint interview on ESPN. “Whether we was teammates, whether we was opponents, we brought the best out of each other. I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to be drafted at the same time as this guy. The friendship that we have, you guys know that’s beyond basketball.”
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