Jaime Jaquez Jr. speaks on bringing his Mexican roots to the NBA: ‘I take a lot of pride in it’

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat rookie forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. spoke about bringing his Mexican roots to the NBA.

Jaquez was part of a tribute to the other five players that have also played in the NBA with Mexican citizenship — Eduardo Najera, Horacio Llamas, Gustavo Ayon, Jorge Gutierrez and Juan Toscano-Anderson — prior to one of his dunks in the 2024 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

The Heat rookie shared that he has a lot of pride in his heritage.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” Jaquez said to the Miami Herald. “It wasn’t anything I was trying to do. I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to try to be the best Mexican or the first Mexican,’ you know what I’m saying. But it’s great that a lot of people see it that way and it’s great that a lot of people feel inspired by that and appreciate that.”

It’s cool to see Jaquez honoring the Mexican players that came before him, and he was second in that group of six Mexicans to take part in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Toscano-Anderson was the first of the group and was the runner-up in the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

“I think it was all about showing love to the people who came before me,” Jaquez said. “As you guys saw, all the Mexicans who ever played in the NBA were shown. It’s just talking about continuing that legacy, continuing to build and move forward. Here I am now, but there’s going to be plenty more coming after me.”

Jaquez’s father has Mexican roots, and the Heat rookie shared that he still has a lot of family in Guadalajara, where his father’s family is from.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jaquez came up short in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday, as it was Mac McClung who ended up defeating Jaylen Brown in the final round to win his second straight title.

Still, Jaquez has a lot to be proud of in his rookie season.

He is averaging 12.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range. He’s appeared in 49 games for the Heat, playing 29.5 minutes per game, and he has stepped up with Jimmy Butler missing 18 games so far this season.

Hopefully, Jaquez can continue the legacies of Mexican players in the NBA by having a lengthy and successful career with Miami.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.