People to this day ALWAYS ask me….
How the hell did you become a Miami Heat fan.
I can understand the concern and confusion from the outset. I mean look at all the pro sports teams I support. In the NFL I am a die hard defender of all things Big Blue aka. New York Giants (defending Super Bowl Champions I might add), love the clumsy yet lovable estranged stepchild of the metropolitan in the New York Mets and even the New York Rangers in the NHL.
Like I just said, it’s easy to get confused, confuzzled and look at me in some strange way like I’m either….
a.) a frontrunner
b.) totally confused of my own sports identity
c.) crazy as hell.
Let me explain myself real quick. When I first moved to Miami in the summer of 1989, it was then I got into NBA basketball. I remember as a kid getting acquainted to the city and watching this young Heat team on WBFS TV33 and really enjoyed watching rookie sharpshooter Glen Rice. And while this Heat team who went on to finish with a 18-64 record in the 89-90 season, the impact that young team that consisted of a young Rony Siekaly and Grant Long showed alot of young promise and hard work so I naturally gravitated to the Miami Heat if for nothing, out of sheer sympathy. They were for the most part an NBA laughingstock in those days.
And who can forget those mid 90’s Heat teams. The time where Superman himself Pat Riley came in and saved this franchise from possible purgatory. Oh yeah…this is the dark days of the Lewis Schaffel/Billy Cunningham regime. This is the days before current Heat owner Micky Arison put his stamp on this franchise. With questionable trades and decisions that were made leading into the mid 90’s, it was an act of God that Schaffel/Cunningham decided to sell their stake in the team and another act of God that Micky Arison had the vision and foresight where to take this Miami Heat into. Bringing in Pat Riley and allowing him to shape this team into his image might be the most trust I have ever seen an owner put into a front office executive, even if it is the great Pat Riley.
As I presently celebrate the Miami Heat’s 2nd championship in 6 years in it’s not really rich but thriving franchise history the first place I went to mentally honestly was the 1991-92 season.
I do not know. There isn’t really much of a mark made that year in the annals of Heat history.
But yet why did I revert my mind back to that time? I mean I was only 12 years old at the time. I was of course an avid basketball fan and was as loyal a Miami Heat fan as I am today.
91-92 was the first time in franchise history the Heat went to the postseason….as a 38-44, #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Sure for most NBA fans then and now if I even mention that era I’m looked at as nuts, crazy and just flat out outdated. But 91-92 for me was the first time I ever felt absolute elation in regards to this franchise. Just BEING in the playoffs, being a part of something bigger that Miami as a basketball had never been to before was truly amazing. It was what I called “the innocence of fandom”. Sure we know how that story ended in 1992. Michael Jordan and the eventual 2 time champion Chicago Bulls came in and made quick work of the Heat in 3 games. (those were the days of 5 game series in the 1st round)
What those days did for me was far bigger than anyone can imagine 20 years later. It made me appreciate the small victories. It also made me care for this team far more than I probably even cared to. It was then I felt a part of the Miami Heat family in some small way even though I never met any of the ownership or executives then and now (Lewis Shaffel/Billy Cunningham owned the team then). One of my most precious memories of a Heat fan was in March 1993 when the Miami Heat who that season were a sub .500 ball club beat the Chicago Bulls for the first time franchise history (took them 5 full years).
I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that when you root for a team that consists of the talents of a LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh that you are destined to have front-running, bandwagoning, go on and slap your momma “johnny come lately’s” fans in tow to support your team. It’s just the nature of sport in 2012. The same happened for the Yankees in the late 90’s, and the Lakers in the early 00’s. So yes I do get it and I am glad there are people that do support the Miami Heat far more than they’ve ever had (including 2006).
I just sometimes long and wish for the innocence of the early Miami Heat teams that got me where I am now. Unfortunately very few people I know can relate to that time and era. It’s what we call “a rare breed”.
Damn.. sometimes I hate nostalgia
But I didn’t want to make this post about the criticism of who’s a bigger fan than who or who can piss farther than the other. I am truly happy about this year’s title accomplishment. But unlike 2006 where it was more emotional for me cause it was the first championship, 2012 was more relief due to the self made expectations placed on this franchise.
I just hope that there are more championships on the horizon for Miami. Maybe years later I can long and appreciate this current state of Heat Nation as I do the early years.