Count Heat legend Dwyane Wade among those thoroughly impressed by Heat first-round draft pick Tyler Herro.
“Just from summer league, right away, you know a basketball player when you see one; the kid can play basketball,” Wade said Saturday evening before being the subject of a celebrity roast hosted by Heat TV host Jason Jackson at the 1 Hotel South Beach.
“Obviously he’s going to get a tag of being a shooter because he looks a certain way. But he’s not; he’s a basketball player. He makes plays. He plays very well off the dribble. He’s a great 1-on-1 player and obviously he can shot the [heck] out of the ball. But everything you hear about him from the coaching staff, from the players, is how hard he works and how dedicated to the craft that he is. So obviously myself and Udonis [Haslem], we respect that coming to this organization.
“And it looks like it was a great pick for us. So I look for him to continue to grow in this organization. And this year, we don’t want to wait with him. I look and see he got the opportunity now to make a difference in this league. So let’s get to it.”
Wade, speaking in South Florida for the first time about basketball since his April retirement, indicated he’s optimistic about the Heat’s chances this season.
“I believe the team is going to continue to take steps forward,” he said. “Obviously, we missed the playoffs last year, not something we set out to do. But with some good health this year, they will be right there in the mix in the Eastern Conference. So I’m excited about this team. Obviously the added additions to this team around Jimmy, it’s going to be a fun year.”
He’s also eager to see what the future holds for Heat swingman Jimmy Butler, Wade’s friend and former Chicago Bulls teammate.
“I’m excited for Jimmy, first of all,” Wade said. “I’ve always told him, and I think you guys heard it a lot, he’s a Miami Heat culture guy. So far, I’m sure that you guys can see that. So what he’s going to bring to that team is toughness, his form of leadership, his talent and abilities. It’s going to be a special year for him.”
Wade reiterated that he has no plans to play again.
“Nah; I’m ready to sign my retirement papers,” he said.
And he’s enjoying life in Los Angeles with wife Gabrielle Union and his family.
“L.A. life is treating me great, man,” he said. “I’ve been able to see my daughter take steps, and then walk and now starting to run. So I’m just getting used to it, though. It’s different. My schedule is different. The way I move is different. But I’m with my family.”
Proceeds from the roast benefited the Wade Family Foundation.
Among Wade’s roasters Saturday: Butler and close friend and former teammate Haslem, as well as professional comedians Chris Spencer and “Rayzor” Raymond Davis.
“I’ve never been to a roast. I’ve seen a few on TV,” Wade said. “I always wanted to be roasted. I felt like if I get to the point where somebody wants to roast me and make a night out of it, then I’ve become successful. So I’m looking forward to it.”