Justise Winslow couldn’t hide his feelings Friday.
Losing Dwyane Wade as a teammate hurts. And right now, it’s not easy for one of the most important pieces of Miami’s future to process it all.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s not so much about me having to step up or me taking on a bigger role or losing Dwyane, it’s just the fact that not too often you get to have one of the greatest of all-time on your team,” Winslow said after admitting Wade’s surprising departure to the Chicago Bulls late Wednesday night shook him mentally and led to a dreadful 3-for-17 shooting performance in a Summer League game Thursday.
Messy breakup is sad, traumatic ending to Wade’s epic Miami story
“I’m sure guys in L.A. are saying the same about Kobe. Different guys changing teams — guys in Oklahoma City. It’s not too often you play with one of the greats. I think that’s the part that shook me the most — losing that mentor, that friend. But I think I’ll get over it soon.”
While Wade thanked Miami Heat fans, employees and teammates and then declared on Twitter tat South Florida “will always be Wade County” to him, the only franchise the 12-time All-Star has ever played for began life without him for the first time in 13 years.
But Miami-Dade County to me..will always be Wade County!!!
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 7, 2016
The Heat’s divorce from Wade began Thursday, with his No. 3 jersey being replaced on mannequins inside the team store at AmericanAirlines Arena with those of Hassan Whiteside (No. 21), Justise Winslow (20) and Josh Richardson (0). It will continue Friday with a liquidation sale.
Hard for anyone to be happy as reality sinks in about Dwyane Wade
While the Heat has lined up “a series of activities” meant to recognize the future Hall of Famer’s contributions (three championships, five trips to the Finals), all team stores will be selling Wade merchandise at $13 a pop. It’s meant to honor the 13 years Wade spent with the franchise.
In addition, full color ads featuring Wade in his iconic “This is My House” pose will run in South Florida’s three major newspapers, accompanied by a series of photos, videos and vignettes that will pay homage to Wade online and on a jumbo screen outside the arena.
For now, that’s how the Heat plans to recognize Wade, who will still be in South Florida this weekend to host his annual basketball camp.
How Miami plans to replace his leadership and on-court presence is another issue entirely.