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Dwyane Wade believes Donovan Mitchell is ‘hungry for greatness’ after jersey exchange in Miami

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell(45) reacts as Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) drives past during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec 2, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell(45) reacts as Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) drives past during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec 2, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

MIAMI — On opposite ends of the floor at American Airlines Arena Sunday, a rising star and a seasoned veteran went through pregame warm-ups at the same time ahead of the Utah Jazz versus Miami Heat matchup.

For the next 48 minutes, they went at it in a classic duel on the hardwood where Heat legend Dwyane Wade got the better of Jazz up and comer Donovan Mitchell, with Miami snapping Utah’s two-game win streak, 102-100.

Afterward, they exchanged jerseys and posed for photos, which Mitchell was thankful of despite missing the potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

He ended with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists on 8-for-24 shooting on the night, but left with a priceless gift.

Wade finished with 15 points and eight assists off the bench plus the go-ahead free throws in the last 3.2 seconds after being fouled by Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

“To be honest with you, that was surreal,” Mitchell said of Wade. “You aren’t really thinking about it in the game, but you look back at it as one of those things where the guy is your idol.

“I talked to him many times this summer about his career and habits on and off the floor, whatever it may be,” he added. “That was a pretty special moment.”

One of those conversations lasted two hours, which Wade said never happens nowadays, where Mitchell picked his brain about everything under the sun. With Mitchell often drawing comparisons to Wade, with the same physical build and ability to attack the basket, he wanted to take pointers from the man himself ahead of his 16th and final season.

“Outside of probably my better friends in the league, Victor Oladipo and Donovan Mitchell are two of the guys I talk to the most,” Wade said. “They’re just guys who are similar in how our games structure and guys who really want it and want to be great.

“We was on the phone for two hours,” he continued. “I don’t talk to nobody for two hours no more, but he wanted to pick my brain, he had a lot of great questions and we just talked about the game. We talked about my first year to my second year, how did I make the jump, and he had a lot of great questions.”

Mitchell also attended Wade’s inaugural D. Wade Invitationalat the Stance Headquarters in San Clemente, California, in August, where he soaked in as much knowledge as possible following his breakout rookie campaign. Jazz coach Quin Snyder often uses Wade’s tapes as teachable moments for Mitchell as he still has a long way to reach that three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star status.

“It seems like when we’re trying to teach young guys certain things that there’s a bunch of moves that you kind of point to him and say watch Dwyane Wade, like he did this or he did that,” Snyder said. “That’s been true with Donovan. I couldn’t do them but I could demonstrate them because it’s that significant, the things that he’s brought to the game.

“He’s just such a unique player,” Snyder added. “He probably doesn’t remember but he ended our season when I was coaching at Missouri in the NCAA Tournament in an overtime game, so I’ve watched him for a long, long time and have tremendous respect and appreciation for his game and what he’s brought to this game and this league.”

The future is in good hands, according to Wade, as he says Mitchell is “hungry for greatness.” He doesn’t mind Mitchell being compared to him, but on Sunday night he felt good leaving with the victory, where Mitchell whispered “Man, you got me” to him after the final buzzer sounded.

“That relationship is something that I appreciate and something that when I’m done with the game I’ll be able to continue what I have,” Wade said.