MIAMI – Dwyane Wade may have had help on Tuesday.
Not the kind he receives on the court from Goran Dragic or Hassan Whiteside or any of his Miami Heat teammates.
But help from above.
Wade wrote the name of Joaquin Oliver on his shoes before Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia. Oliver was one of the 14 students who, along with three adults, were killed in the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Oliver’s parent revealed their son was wearing Wade’s jersey when he was buried.
Wade then went out and scored a season-high 27 points, including the game-winning jump shot with 5.9 seconds remaining to give the Heat a 102-101 victory over the Sixers.
Following the game, Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union, posted on social media that he “was riding high with angels tonight.” She included the names of three people, including Joaquin and Wade’s former agent, Henry Thomas, who died on Jan. 27.
“From away from the game of basketball, just understanding how important we are as professionals,” Wade said when asked about the gesture. “For me, it’s just giving whatever I can to people who believe in me and especially since he was happy about me coming back here and embraced me, could only dream of me coming back home. It was only paying due respect to him and his family tonight.”
Wade was emotional earlier this week when he learned what Joaquin’s parents had done. Before the game, Wade sent a message to Joaquin through Twitter:
“It’s way BIGGER than basketball. We are the voices for the people that don’t get to be heard. Joaquin Oliver may you Rest In Peace and i dedicate my return and the rest of this Miami Heat season to you.”
Gabrielle Union retweeted that message following the dramatic Heat win and added: “I’m still shaking… South Florida needed this. Man. I’m tearing up for so many reasons and none basketball related. It’s bigger than basketball!”
The gesture by Joaquin’s parents had had a profound effect on Wade, who returned to Miami on Feb. 14 in a trade with Cleveland. Wade spent his first 13 seasons with the Heat before leaving for Chicago via free agency in July 2016.
“You really can’t put that in words,” he said Monday. “You hurt for the family and if you’re able to get an opportunity to speak to them, you just try to hope that the time where he was alive, that you was able to bring some form of joy to his life and something memorable, a story that you guys can talk about.
“I don’t even know the word for it. Like I retweeted. … I said, ‘You’re going to make me cry.’ It’s emotional even thinking about that, that his parents felt that burying him in my jersey is something that he wanted. I take a lot of pride in what I’ve done in this state and what I’ve meant for the youth, so I appreciate that.”