SACRAMENTO -- Minutes before the game between the Kings and Heat started, the massive scoreboard that hangs over the Golden 1 Center court flashed to a live view of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade sitting on the sideline.
Knowing it was his last game in town, a sold-out Sacramento crowd gave the 37-year-old star a huge ovation.
Once the ball was tipped, the Kings weren’t so nice. Wade took a monster spill in the first quarter and bounced his head off the floor. After a stint in the locker room, he returned to the game and looked like the Wade of old, dropping 11 points on the Kings in less than five minutes before the half.
The Kings tightened their defense in the second half, limiting the 12-time All-Star to just four points after the break and handing the Heat a 102-96 loss.
Following the game, it was a hugs and autographs for Kings players, many of which grew up idolizing the three-time NBA Champion.
“He’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a legend, he’s a hero,” Buddy Hield said. “He inspired many kids, from when I was a little boy. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t in the driveway shooting Dwyane Wade fadeaways and that rocker step he had and he’s always explosive. He won’t be forgotten.”
Hield was a big reason the Kings pulled out the win. He finished with a game-high 23 points, including seven in the final 6:46 of the game to help seal the win.
Despite pinning a loss on Miami, Wade gave Hield one of his signed shoes with a personalized message -- “To: Buddy, Loved watching you play since college. Keep going.”
Dwyane Wade gave his shoe to Buddy Hield after the game. pic.twitter.com/VFPyEQ50kF— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) February 9, 2019
Bogdan Bogdanovic received the other shoe and all he could say afterwards was, “legend” when asked about Wade. The personalized sneaker for the Kings’ second-year guard came with some encouraging words.
“To: Bogdan, love your game and the confidence you play with.”
“To Bogdan, love your game and the confidence you play with.” -Dwyane Wade pic.twitter.com/NJEOv2mLLQ— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) February 9, 2019
While no one was quite sure how it happened, Frank Mason was able to land the prized possession -- Wade’s game-used jersey.
It was a different feel to the evening. The Kings were adjusting to new teammates and slightly overwhelmed by Wade’s final visit. But in the end, they were able to stabilize down the stretch and come away with another big win on their home floor.