3 thank­ing 3: Beal calls Wade an ‘idol’

Sunday Star - - SPORTS -

MI­AMI (AP) — Bradley Beal has been keep­ing a se­cret from Dwyane Wade all of these years.

Beal wears No. 3 for one rea­son.

It’s a trib­ute to his idol.

Af­ter their 16th head-to-head meet­ing on Fri­day night — Mi­ami beat Wash­ing­ton 115-109 — Beal fi­nally sum­moned up the courage to let Wade know how he feels about his game, and ac­knowl­edged after­ward that he was ner­vous when ask­ing to ex­change jer­seys with the player who, not at all co­in­ci­den­tally, wears No. 3 for the Heat.

“I tried not to lose my mind when he first gave it to me be­cause that’s un­be­liev­able,” Beal said. “I’m try­ing not to be a fan, but I am a fan and I am a huge fan of his game. I try to pred­i­cate a lit­tle bit of my game off of his. This is prob­a­bly the first time I’m ac­tu­ally say­ing that, but he’s a leg­end for­ever.”

Wade has been ex­chang­ing jer­seys with play­ers over the course of this, his 16th and fi­nal NBA sea­son. Beal said he was ner­vous to ask Wade for his, for fear that the an­swer would be no.

Turns out, Wade wanted his jer­sey as well — and said he was deeply moved by Beal call­ing him an idol.

“Those mo­ments mean ever ything,” Wade said. “Fan ova­tions are great, but to be able to have fu­ture play­ers com­ing into this league and good play­ers in this league, and to know you had an im­pact on their growth, that’s what you want. It meant a lot. When he said it, I thanked him and I hope I was good enough role model for him.”

Wade left Mi­ami for ba­si­cally 1 1/2 of his 16 NBA sea­sons, play­ing a year in Chicago be­fore start­ing last sea­son in Cleve­land. Beal still con­sid­ers him a Heat lifer, and in­di­cated that he would like to fol­low along a sim­i­lar path.

“He paved the way for me,” Beal said. “He paved the way for a lot of us in to­day’s game and to see his hard work and to play as long as he did in one or­ga­ni­za­tion ... he meant ev­ery­thing to this city and this team. That’s kind of the legacy I want to leave too.”

Beal could face Wade one more time: The Heat visit the Wizards on March 23.

“He’s one of the best to ever do it and he’s not cocky with it,” Beal said. “He does it in a hum­ble way and he’s still able to do what he does at this age and it’s amaz­ing. Ev­ery­thing he’s been through, peo­ple talk about him, but he’s still here. He’s still com­pet­ing with the best of us and I have noth­ing but re­spect for him, his game, his legacy that he left.”

AP PHOTO

Mi­ami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, right, and Wash­ing­ton Wizards guard Bradley Beal ex­change jer­seys af­ter an NBA bas­ket­ball gam Fri­day in Mi­ami. The Heat de­feated the Wizards 115-109.

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