Dennis Wood has been coming to Miami Heat games since the franchise’s inception.
One of his saddest days as a Heat fan was when he found out Dwyane Wade was leaving Miami.
So on Thursday afternoon when his oldest son texted him the news of Wade’s return via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he didn’t believe it.
On Friday night, Wood and his nephew, Brandon, were among the droves of fans who wore No. 3 Wade jerseys and were excited to see their favorite player back in a Heat uniform.
“I thought he was trolling me,” said Wood, a Miami resident who has been a season-ticket holder for all 30 years of Heat basketball. “I was having lunch with my youngest son and I told him, ‘Look at what your brother is doing to me. I’m not falling for this.’ And then I looked up at a TV and I see scrolling on the bottom: Breaking News — Dwyane Wade heading back to Miami.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, this [expletive] is really happening.’ ”
Wood, like many fans of the Heat and Wade in particular, needed a minute to digest the sudden news that Wade was coming back.
The Heat worked out a trade for Wade in exchange for a 2024 protected second round pick.
Jonathan Quillet, 12, convinced his entire family to bring him to the game once he heard the news. His father, Fabrice, mother, Sonia, accompanied by their daughter, Monique, were happy to oblige.
“I got excited because I didn’t think he’d ever come back,” Quillet said. “I thought he’d stay with LeBron [James].”
Shaquille and Trisha Maldonado, a couple living in Orlando, rearranged their plans for Friday when they heard the news.
“We came just for the game because we’re fans of Wade,” Maldonado said. “I called out at work and I was ready to just come here and witness him make his debut with us.”
Maldonado said he was on his way to his job and had to do several looks on social media before he believed what he was reading.
“I almost cried, almost,” Maldonado said.
Some fans said they did cry. Some said they screamed and jumped around frantically when they heard.
Demand for Wade merchandise, including his version of the recently released Miami Vice-themed jersey, has been major.
According to ESPN Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell, the team received orders from more than 100 countries in the first 15 hours after putting Wade’s Vice jersey on sale at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Team merchandise sales, Rovell said, are up 8,000 percent from the previous two days.
“I was a little heartbroken when he left us two years ago,” Wood said. “This was a debt repayment for three championships. Sometimes in life it all comes around.”