The Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons and Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade pose after swapping jerseys.  Picture: Matt Slocum/AP
The Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons and Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade pose after swapping jerseys. Picture: Matt Slocum/AP

NBA legend pays tribute to Simmons

DWYANE Wade had a powerful message for Ben Simmons after their final showdown in the NBA.

"I told him that one day I want to tell my grandkids that I have a Ben Simmons jersey," Wade said after the pair exchanged jerseys following the Philadelphia 76ers 106-102 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday (local time).

Wade, who will retire from basketball in April, has made a point of swapping jerseys with NBA luminaries during his final season, making his moment with Simmons especially meaningful.

Melbourne native Simmons idolised Wade as a child and explained how the Miami Heat superstar was one of the biggest inspirations for his own career.

"Growing up I used to wear his shoes when he was with Converse, so it was an amazing feeling to be out there with a legend like that," Simmons said.

Wade is a three-time NBA champion and has received 13 All-Star selections, the last of which came alongside Simmons in Charlotte this past weekend.

Teaming up during the NBA's marquee weekend provided Simmons with another opportunity to learn alongside someone who graduated from childhood hero to mentor after the Australian moved to the US in 2013.

Wade said: "I've known Ben for a long time and since he was a young guy, I saw his work ethic and I knew that he wanted it and I continue to see that and I continue to see that he wants to be great."

Simmons is averaging 16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this season and his versatile skill set has resulted in the 22-year-old being compared with some of the greatest names in basketball history.

While reluctant to place unwarranted pressure on Simmons, Wade still identified some of the characteristics that fuelled his own Hall of Fame career.

"He is a total team player and you know me, I believe I am the same way, so he is someone that I see a little bit of myself in with the way that he plays the game," Wade said.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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