MIAMI (WSVN) - Dwyane Wade made a triumphant return to the American Airlines Arena wearing his Heat jersey for the first time since returning to the team, triggering a fan frenzy that manifested itself in glowing praise and new merchandise sales.
Fans celebrated by getting tickets to watch Wade play, Friday night, as well as taking home some brand-new Heat merchandise of their own.
7News cameras captured Heat fans entering the Miami Heat Store at the arena as it opened its doors at 6:30 p.m., an hour and a half before tip-off. The jam-packed retailer resembled a mall crowd during the holiday rush.
Store employees said they made room on the shelves for new Wade-related merchandise, including new No. 3 jerseys and exclusive shirts.
“Right when we got the news, we started making [the jerseys],” said Eddie Abad, senior manager of retail operations. “We’ve been working well into the night making these jerseys, so we have tons of jerseys ready for tonight.”
The merchandise is being sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Very excited, very pumped that Wade’s back,” said fan Jane Garcia.
The Heat Store also posted a photo of a Miami Vice-style Heat #3 jersey on Instagram with the caption, “Good things come to those who wait.”
“I think it’s awesome! I think it’s great,” said Heat fan Carl Smith.
Wade did not disappoint when he took to the court. Following a rousing standing ovation, No. 3 delivered a three-pointer with his first shot taken since his return to the Magic City — the place he calls “home.”
“No. 3 in my jersey, No. 1 in my heart,” said a woman as she became emotional.
She wasn’t the only one moved by Wade’s return.
“I cried yesterday after the announcement,” said Heat fan J.C. Figueroa.
“We’re talking about a guy that brought three championships to the city,” said fan Jordan Cristancho. “We’re talking about a guy that is the one that built the culture for all these young guys to come in.”
Many South Floridians said he belongs in the 305 — in Heat colors.
“This is his home,” said fan John Vazquez. “He’s back home, and we’re glad to have him back.”
“Miami’s home. He’s always loved Miami,” said fan Randy Rincon. “Heat Nation, 13 years. We love him here.”
On social media, Wade also expressed his thoughts about returning to Miami.
Fans are hoping Wade is able to transition back into the Miami Heat picture as the All-Star break approaches.
“It’s been awesome. The fans’ response [has been] awesome, our staff – everyone’s excited,” said Abad. “So we’re very happy to be in this situation of working overnight because we’re excited to have him.”
After he announced the return, there has been a big demand for No. 3 jerseys.
According to ESPN, team merchandise has increased more than 8,000 percent since Wade’s jersey was available for purchase online.
The Heat won Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks 91-85.
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