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Wade expresses his gratitude at jersey retirement ceremony

MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade went through a long list of thank-yous as he delivered a 20-minute speech at his jersey retirement ceremony Saturday night, mentioning everyone from his business manager and the Miami Heat ball boys to Pat Riley.

“I could have gone on for an hour,” Wade said following the ceremony at halftime of the Heat’s 124-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “This is about me for sure, but this is about all of us at the same time — the city of Miami, teammates over the years, everyone who has sacrificed, rooted and cried. We all did this together. I didn’t do this by myself.”

Wade’s wife helped to hoist his No. 3 jersey to the rafters, where it joined the retired jerseys of four other Heat players — Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Bosh.

The ceremony was the centerpiece in a three-day celebration of Wade’s 16-year NBA career, which included three championship seasons with the Heat. Wade, who now lives in Los Angeles, returned to the arena for the first time since his final home game in April 2019.

“The man is hanging from the ceiling in a way he’ll never be forgotten,” Riley told the crowd.

Wade reminisced about the impression he made helping Marquette beat Kentucky, Riley’s alma mater, in the NCAA tournament. Months later, Riley and the Heat took Wade with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, and spectators at the Miami arena that night roared their approval at the choice.

“At that moment I felt your love,” Wade told the crowd. “That was the first of many moments we would share together. Your appreciation and love has never left me. If there is one word, one feeling I want to convey to you tonight, it is gratitude.”

Wade closed his speech by quoting his friend, the late Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe said the most important thing is to try to inspire others so they can be great in whatever they choose to do,” Wade told the crowd. “I hope I’ve inspired all of you.”

Wade played 14 1/2 of his 16 NBA seasons with the Heat. He was the 2006 NBA Finals MVP and made 13 All-Star games.

This weekend’s festivites also includes tribute speeches Friday night and a showing of a documentary Sunday.

“We’re celebrating greatness and a legacy that will live on forever,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.