HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The most storied player in the history of Miami Heat basketball says there’s no debate about it: Florida loves basketball, but it’s not the state’s top sports draw.
“If the Dolphins get it going, it’s going to be Dolphins town," former NBA star Dwyane Wade told ESPN, for an article the site published Monday on Tua Tagovailoa. "We did as much to make it a basketball town as possible, and Miami Heat is there to stay. But let’s not get it twisted: Florida is football.”
Tagovailoa, the Hawaii prep football legend and national title game hero from the University of Alabama, was drafted fifth-overall by the Miami Dolphins last month. And though there’s plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the start of the NFL season, there’s no question that Miami football fans believe Tagovailoa could put the Dolphins back on the map.
“He’s a hell of a player. Miami, especially at the QB position, really needs that," Wade said. "They need a leader. They need a player. To come in as a young player and win a game in the second half of a national championship game, that shows some grit. People have to really believe in you. Miami needs that."
Miami hasn’t had a legitimate franchise quarterback since 2000, when Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino ran the Dolphins offense.
In the hours after he was drafted, Tagovailoa called Marino the greatest Dolphins quarterback of all time and equated him to the mayor of Miami. He also chose to pay homage to the legend by choosing to wear jersey No. 1 in Miami; the No. 13 jersey Tagovailoa wore in high school and at Alabama was Marino’s number, and has since been retired in his honor.
Tagovailoa’s Dolphins jerseys, both the colorful ‘home’ and white ‘away’ versions, have been among the top sellers in the NFL since April’s draft.