Prior to the start of the season, Josh Hart changed his jersey number from five to three, the number he’s worn his entire life. As it turns out, Hart wears the No. 3 because of Dwyane Wade, who made his final visit to Staples Center when the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Miami Heat on Friday.
Following the game, Hart said it was surreal to go head-to-head with his childhood hero one last time (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“It was really cool. He was one of my favorite players growing up, the reason I wear No. 3. He’s my role model. This game was crazy. I was able to match up with him a lot, definitely down the stretch in the second half. It was a dream come true.”
As if playing against Wade in his last game in Los Angeles wasn’t enough, Wade also gave Hart his shoes after the game with a special parting message for the 23-year-old:
Josh Hart asked Dwyane Wade for his game shoes tonight. Hart said he wears No. 3 in honor of Wade, his favorite player growing up. Wade wrote, “I love the way you play the game. Reminds me of me. Keep going.” pic.twitter.com/ljZ44IehXN— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 11, 2018
No, you’re crying!
Hart admitted that it was tough to not get caught up in the moment during the game:
“I talked to him. He gave me his kicks. Like I said, that my role model. That was my favorite player growing up. Still is. Sometimes it’s tough, when you’re playing those 48 minutes to separate those feelings because you want to be competitive — you’re a competitor — but it was awesome being in this game.”
One could argue that Wade’s message to Hart was a little generous, but that doesn’t take anything away from how special the moment was between a young pro and his favorite player.
It’s not too often players get to be a part of something that transcends the game of basketball, and Hart did just that on Monday.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.