Jaime Jaquez Jr. says being a sommelier is one of his life goals after retirement

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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Jaquez Jr. is just a rookie playing his first NBA season, but the 23-year-old already has plans for what he wants to do when he retires: become a sommelier.

“We were on the bus going to shootaround against the [New Orleans] Pelicans and then K-Love (Kevin Love) came in and said, ‘Who wants to go to Napa Valley?’” Jaquez said. “Hands shot up, I was ready to go. Then all our hands went up, and we were all ready to go.”

A first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaquez has had a debut season worth toasting. He also is developing some skills in areas off the court as well.

“I would say I’m on the way to being a wine connoisseur,” Jaquez said. “One of my goals in life after I’m retired, I have a lot of ’em, is to be a sommelier in the restaurant business.”

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) product is averaging 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 59 appearances this season.

He is one of the few Heat players who have remained relatively healthy this season, missing just a stretch of six games in January with a groin strain. His 59 games played are second-most on the team, just one behind Duncan Robinson.

Jaquez has been drawing praise ever since he was considered a possible steal of the draft last June. Some NBA teams reportedly greatly admire his ability and hate the fact the Heat were able to snag him with the No. 18 overall pick.

He has been considered one of the top first-year players in the league, along with Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs and Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and participated in Panini Rising Stars and the Slam Dunk Contest at the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend events.

Despite hitting something of a rookie wall in February, Jaquez is still fourth in the most recent Kia Rookie Ladder rankings.

Miami has lost four in a row heading into its game at the Detroit Pistons on Friday. The Heat are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference but are just one game behind the Indiana Pacers for sixth place and 3.5 games behind the fourth-place New York Knicks.

They remain without injured Tyler Herro and Love for at least the four-game road trip that begins with consecutive games against the Pistons followed by meetings with the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers next week.

Jaquez will be counted on to the finish the season strong as the Heat try to avoid having to compete in the play-in round for a second straight year with eyes on making another long playoff run.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.