On Friday night, Dirk Nowitzki got a standing ovation from the home crowd in Boston, and they were also cheering him on toward the end of the game in hopes he’d get a bucket before the night was over. It’s because the 40-year-old Mavs legend is in his 21st season, and his visit to Boston might very well have been his last, although he hasn’t officially announced he will retire.
Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, has let the world know he plans on calling it a career after this season, which means every final visit to an NBA city along the way is part of his farewell tour, which has also included him exchanging jerseys with some of his close friends after the games in a feelgood ritual that pays homage to the legends of past and present and signifies a passing of the torch.
Bradley Beal got his opportunity to do just that after the Wizards’ 115-109 loss to the Heat on Friday night, and after the game, Beal and Wade posed for photo ops and later Beal gushed about the chance to tell his idol how much his career has inspired him as an up-and-coming player in the NBA.
“He’s part of the reason I wear No. 3,” Beal said. “For the first time, I told him that tonight, because I’ve never told him that in all the years I’ve played against him. He’s part of the reason I wear that number, and that means a lot to me, to be able to have his jersey, because he has three championships, he’s one of the best two-guards to ever play, and I’m happy I was able to compete against him for seven years.”
It’s touching to see a current player get star-struck over the chance to share this type of moment with one of his idols and a great reminder that players are fans, too.
Most notably, Wade has already exchanged jerseys with former teammate and best friend LeBron James during his visit to Staples Center, where he was honored by the home crowd, and received a rocking chair from fledgling star Donovan Mitchell. What’s next on his farewell tour is anyone’s guess, but we can only hope for more genuine moments like this one.