MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Before the Miami Heat’s first preseason appearance at American Airlines Arena, the team honored former Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last month.
Dee Gordon had a courtside seat to watch the Heat on Tuesday night, for a very good reason.
The Miami Marlins second baseman was there to represent Jose Fernandez .
Miami’s first home preseason game of the season had a somber beginning, with the Heat paying tribute to the late Marlins ace right-hander by wearing his initials and jersey No. 16 on the back of their warmup shirts — then by offering a moment of silence before tip-off against the Brooklyn Nets.
The 24-year-old Fernandez and two friends died last month when the boat they were riding in crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach.
“It was a devastating blow to all of us in South Florida and our hearts go out to his family and everybody at the Marlins,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s just so tragic for a player so young. We also want to acknowledge the other two gentlemen who were on that boat as well, and their families.”
Gordon told Fox Sports Florida during their broadcast of the game that when he heard about the gesture — the Heat announced it a few hours before game time — he made arrangements to be at the game. Gordon wore one of the team’s shooting shirts with the Fernandez tribute on the back.
“He was the heart and soul of Miami. … It’s just still weird that he’s gone,” Gordon said. “That’s just the part we’re trying to get over, but I think it’s going to be tough.”
The Heat players and coaches all linked arms for the playing of the national anthem in a show of unity, while the Nets’ players and coaches draped their arms over each other’s shoulders.
HEAT 121, NETS 100
Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes for the Heat. Whiteside is averaging 19.3 points and 13 rebounds in three preseason games, shooting 71 percent and playing about 24 minutes in each.
Goran Dragic added 17 points and 11 assists for Miami. Jeremy Lin led the Nets with 16 points.
NETS: Brooklyn was down by 12 in the first quarter, then led by 11 in the second quarter and trailed again by 17 after three quarters. … Bojan Bogdanovic scored 13, while Luis Scola and Justin Hamilton each scored 12. … The Nets took 13 3-pointers in the first quarter alone.
HEAT: Whiteside made his first five shots. … Josh McRoberts (foot) and Josh Richardson (knee) remain sidelined, and veterans Udonis Haslem and Beno Udrih also were held out.
UP NEXT: Brooklyn (1-2) hosts Boston on Thursday. Miami (2-1) visits San Antonio on Friday.