Dwyane Wade’s jersey exchange with Celtics guard Terry Rozier following Thursday’s game was pre-planned … in November.
“Let’s [go back to] late November,” Wade said with a smile before the Heat hosted the Grizzlies on Saturday. “I wake up the next day, and I got a text at 4 in the morning from Terry Rozier. He’s like, ‘Yo, I’m going to need that jersey.’ So I go and I look at when we’re playing them, thinking we’re about to play Boston. I’m like, ‘We don’t play y’all till January.’ So he put his request in early and let me know at 4 in the morning to make sure that when we play them he needed that jersey. We have that kind of relationship.”
Rozier, a 24-year-old bench player who grew up in Ohio, got what he asked for as Wade handed him his black Heat “Vice Nights” uniform following Miami’s 115-99 win over Boston. It marked the first of four meetings this season between the Heat and Celtics.
Rozier said after Thursday’s game that “it was mandatory I got his jersey. I wouldn’t let nobody else get it.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“I’ve known Terry for a while — when he was at Louisville and we had a sit down and talk,” Wade recalled. “He told me how much of a big fan he was. He had all my sneakers — Converse, everything. He showed me he’s been a big fan for a long time, and we’ve built a relationship from there, even when he was in college. Just me reaching out to him, seeing how he was doing.”
Wade has already exchanged jerseys with All-Star players like New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Los Angeles’ LeBron James, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Washington’s Bradley Beal. Swapping jerseys with an opposing player after each game has become a signature element of Wade’s final NBA season.
But it’s less about doing it with the league’s best players and more about sharing the moment with players who Wade has relationships with or just has respect for.
“I have a list. Sometimes the list doesn’t always go the way that I want it to go,” Wade said. “Some guys on my list I don’t have amazing relationships with. Then I play against certain teams and I realize that ‘Oh dang. This guys is over here.’ And guys that I’ve been in the league with for a while, they come up and they make requests, too. ‘We played against each other for 10-plus years and you gave your jersey to a rookie?’ probably is their mentality, so I definitely get requests and I take some.
“I hope that it’s something that continues to take on a life of its own in the NBA. I know it’s a competitive league and I know that you’re not supposed to fraternize, but it’s a sign of respect in this game.”
Heat starting center Hassan Whiteside missed Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies due to an illness. He also skipped Friday’s practice because he was sick, and his health did not improve leading up to the contest.
It marks the sixth game Whiteside has missed this season — one because of a right knee injury, four because of the birth of his son and now another because of an illness.
Whiteside is averaging 12.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 35 games this season.