Miami Heat‘s first preseason game tips off at the FTX Arena on Monday, and while numerous players from last year are no longer on the team, one particular veteran’s absence will hit hardest for most fans, the face of Goran Dragic.
Dragic, who’s played in Miami since 2015, and is widely considered the best point guard to ever play in a Heat uniform, was part of the sign-and-trade deal (as was Precious Achiuwa) that brought six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry to South Beach this summer.
While Dragic was unhappy about joining the Raptors at first, he expressed his desire to be moved to another team soon after the trade went through, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was pretty blunt in explaining why they gave up the veteran point guard to obtain Lowry on Monday.
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“At the end of the day, this is a bottom-line business. It’s about winning,” Spoelstra said, as reported by Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang.
Coach Spo Doesn’t Believe the Trade Ruined His Personal Relationship With Dragic
Coach Spo didn’t sugarcoat the fact that Lowry is an upgrade from Dragic, a true third star to play alongside the core duo that is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Spoelstra also doesn’t believe the trade will sour his personal relationship with Dragic.
“But you really also want to be able to develop meaningful lasting relationships. That’s the part that you treasure the most. That’s the most gratifying in this profession for all of us, when you have these shared experiences that build incredible memories.”
“That’s what I have with Goran. I think back to obviously the really competitive experiences we had in the playoffs. But equally as important and equally as gratifying to me are the trips over to Slovenia and visiting him and his family, and seeing where he was from, how he is and how people respond to him in his country. It was really cool.”
Dragic Won’t Wear No.7 in Toronto, But Lowry Will Wear No.7 in Miami
After Miami Heat’s official Twitter account revealed Lowry would continue wearing his Raptors’ jersey number last month, their comments section blew with strong reactions. “Not my No. 7,” one man tweeted, while another person commented, “smh can’t believe y’all let him wear the Dragon’s number so disrespectful.”
However, Lowry clarified last week that he respectfully asked for Dragic’s blessing to continue wearing No.7 in Miami: ”
Goran has been a friend of mine for a long, long time now. And me and him have always been great competitive players against the other, and we always cheered for each other. It’s just out of straight respect for a guy that I’ve been knowing now for 10 years, 11 years now. And I just feel what he did here for this organization, and for me it’s just calling a friend and saying, ‘Listen, no disrespect. If that’s cool with you. No other number means anything to me but seven.’
Dragic, however, will not be wearing No. 7 as a member of the Raptors.TSN Sports’ Josh Lewenberg tweeted, “Dragic will be wearing No. 1 with the Raptors. He said he was happy to give his friend and former teammate Kyle Lowry his blessing to wear No. 7 with Miami and never considered asking him to do the same, understands what Lowry means to the Raps franchise.”
Leaving Lowry’s jersey alone was met with high praise from Raptors fans. “This is good to hear after Dragic’s early stumble when joining the Raps. I view him a little more favorably now, but time will tell,” one man tweeted, while one man surmised, “Clean slate. He’s a raptor, let’s treat him like one.”
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