Miami Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler took off his throwback Goran Dragic Heat jersey, put it back on, then pulled it off again.
Koehler was standing outside the Heat locker room with second baseman Dee Gordon and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
The Marlins trio had signed autographs at halftime of Tuesday’s Spurs-Heat game at AmericanAirlines Arena, but now they were the fans, waiting to meet the Heat’s starting backcourt.
Koehler essentially couldn’t decide whether it was cool or not as a professional athlete to have another player’s jersey on when he met him. Gordon, though, kept trying to convince him to do it.
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“TK is now a Dragic fan,” Gordon said. “He’s in. He’s all in. I told him before the game he would like him.”
First, Dwyane Wade walked out and introduced himself. He talked to the Marlins about his inability to swing a baseball bat and then posed for pictures.
After reporters filed out of the locker room, Dragic and Koehler were finally able to meet. The two began talking about the difference between the three-point arcs in Europe and the United States, and the conversation carried on from there.
It took one play — a first-quarter fast break in which Dragic was called for an offensive foul — for Koehler to become a fan.
“He pushed the ball up the court one time, that was it,” Koehler said. “I was like, all right.”
The 6-3, 235-pound Bronx, New York, native, who went 11-14 last season with a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts, was a former center and tight end on his high school football team and an undersized power forward on his high school basketball team. So, he’s naturally a fan of undersized guys who play with toughness.
Gordon, a former high school basketball star who actually received a scholarship offer to Louisville, told Wade that Koehler was one of the tough guys of the team.
In the locker room after the game, Dragic said he didn’t know the Marlins had sat courtside, but he said it was “nice that a guy who is also in the business of sports follows you.”
The Marlins and Heat — close neighbors with AmericanAirlines Arena only about 2.5 miles away from Marlins Park — have maintained a friendly relationship since Marlins Park opened in March 2012.
Chris Bosh has thrown out the first pitch at a Marlins game and a couple of years ago Shane Battier took batting practice there, hitting a few balls to the warning track.
Heat owner Mickey Arison and team president Pat Riley have sat next to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria near the Marlins dugout during games, and the team owns a suite at Marlins Park.
The Marlins have four courtside seats near midcourt at AmericanAirlines Arena, and that’s where Gordon, Hechavarria and Koehler sat for Tuesday’s game against the Spurs.
With the Marlins’ season fast approaching — pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter on Feb. 19 — Gordon and Koehler said they were excited to get back to work.
The Marlins, who finished 71-91 and in third place in the National League East last season, host their Winter Warm Up for fans Feb. 20 at Marlins Park.
Gordon, who signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension this winter, is coming off his best season. The two-time All-Star became the first player since Jackie Robinson in 1949 to lead the NL in batting average (.333) and stolen bases (58).
Gordon, Koehler and Hechavarria were introduced to the Heat crowd shortly before halftime Tuesday and received friendly applause.
“It’s a fresh start for everybody,” Koehler said. “A lot of optimism. Every time, every year you come into camp, it’s a new opportunity to do something great. Just getting the chance to hang out with some teammates [Tuesday night] gets you really excited to see the rest of the guys next week.”
And when the games arrive in early April, the roles on Tuesday could be reversed. Koehler said he “absolutely” would get some tickets for Dragic.
“That would be nice to see a baseball game,” Dragic said. “Why not?”
Miami Herald sportswriter Manny Navarro contributed to this report