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Heat’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. laughing along with ‘Juan Wick’ nickname, as a proud Mexiwegian

Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. (left) and actor Keanu Reeves have the look. (South Florida ֱ; New York Daily News).
Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. (left) and actor Keanu Reeves have the look. (South Florida ֱ; New York Daily News).
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MIAMI — It is the logical next step amid an NBA breakthrough. It also has to happen organically.

And then Jaime Jaquez Jr. noticed. And then the Miami Heat rookie laughed.

Juan Wick.

“I saw that when I was coming into the league.” Jaquez said with a smile. “I thought that was hilarious, honestly.”

The play on words.

The play on his ethnicity.

The Cali player with the Hollywood moniker.

“Hey, man,” the No. 18 pick in June out of UCLA said, “it’s all jokes at the end of the day. I found it hilarious. I know my family found it really funny, too.

“I think it started in the transition of coming into the NBA, kind of in the summer league, I think is when it really started.”

For years, when Keanu Reeves has worn the goatee, friends and teammates noted the resemblance.

But it is Reeves’ film role as John Wick, a former hitman who is drawn back into the criminal underworld, that has drawn the sharpest comparison, the combination of goatee and flowing locks, albeit with Reeves 37 years his senior.

“I’ve been compared to John Wick before,” Jaquez said of his look. “I think it started in college. But I love those movies. I can’t lie. Those are great movies, great actor in Keanu Reeves.

“Him and Adam Driver are two I get a lot.”

So where did the flowing locks start?

Actually as the result of some hazing.

“That came after my stint with the Mexican national team,” he said of his time playing for Mexico at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

“What they do for the rookies, with the hazing, they shaved everybody’s head,” Jaquez said, his smile turning decidedly south as he recounted. “So I went to college with a bald head. So then I grew it out.”

As for the facial hair? Convenience, the 22-year-old native of Irvine, Calif., said.

“It started growing in and I hated shaving, so I just let it grow,” he said. “I’d say sophomore in college, junior in college.”

Like Reeves, Jaquez comes from a multicultural background.

For Reeves, a mother from England, a father from Hawaii and born in Lebanon.

For Jaquez, his father’s family is from Zapotlanejo, just outside of Guadalajara, with his mother of Norwegian ancestry.

“I’m half Norwegian, half Mexican,” he said, “Norwexican or Mexiwegian.”

The Mexican roots run proud and run deep.

“I’ve been more times than I can count,” he said, with the Heat hosting the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night at Kaseya Center. “I was actually just there a little bit during the summer, doing meetings. I was in Guadalajara, and it was a lot of fun when I was down there. I got to work out at one of the gyms down there.

“Going forward, that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to doing, spending more time there.”

When the Heat played in Atlanta on Nov. 11, it was two days after the Hawks returned from a game in Mexico City, something Jaquez said he would enjoy being part of going forward with the Heat.

“I would love to go play a game in Mexico. I know we couldn’t because the Heat had taken an international trip last year,” he said, with the Heat with a 2022 game in Mexico City against the San Antonio Spurs. “Maybe next year we’ll be able to go and make something happen. But, yeah, I would love to go and play in Mexico.”

He sees it as a soccer-driven place where basketball also could flourish.

“The more and more that they see basketball and are exposed to the game, they’re going to fall in love with it the same way I did,” he said. “And the more time and the more opportunity to see the games, the more kids will play. Then you’ll have kids like myself that love the game.”

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