Loyalty Is Rewarded: Embattled Heat Fan In New York
Hello my name is Allen Stevens and I’m happy to join TJRSports.com. Just like everyone on the website, I’m a major sports junkie and proud of it. Also just like everyone on the site, I’ll always give unbiased and honest opinions regardless of the situation. My sports variety may be a bit odd, but I’ll always have two main sports on top of everything else which are the NFL and NBA. I grew up watching these sports and they will forever be apart of me for the rest of my life.
Despite being more of a football fan, I’m going to discuss my favorite team in basketball, which may be controversial to many people. Most people that know me understand how I’ve been a fan throughout my entire life. Then after telling people that I talk to on the Internet or may not know me at first, they respect and believe that I’m a true fan of this team. Despite all of that, I still get a few people that don’t buy into my reasoning, which is why I want to fully explain why I’m a Miami Heat fan. It sounds like a serious offense that I live in New York yet I root for Miami. You may not like it, but rest assured after this post you’ll respect my loyalty to a high profile team.
When I turned six years old, I remember getting used to playing basketball in my backyard. It was 1999 and basketball was in a dark lockout stage. When I was growing up at that age, my brother’s room was filled with nothing but Rage Against The Machine posters, Nintendo 64 and Alonzo Mourning jerseys. He was the biggest Mourning fan growing up with the Charlotte Hornets jersey then the Miami Heat one. My brother also had over 30 cards of Alonzo Morning from stores along with a Jamal Mashburn or Tim Hardaway card every three pages. It was a pretty extreme collection, but my brother loved Mourning because they had similar playing styles. We would watch the games on NBC and he would really get me into the games. I’ll never forget seeing my brother so depressed after Allan Houston’s buzzer beater to send the Heat home in the first round. When we talked about it in the past, I'm relieved that I wasn’t his age because if the Knicks beat the Heat in a series, I would never hear the end of it.
With the Knicks getting older, I had a feeling that Miami could finally get over the hump. Miami were favored to finally break through and make it to the finals, but then the tragic kidney failure of Alonzo Morning put a huge dent into those hopes. It was just more heartbreak for my brother and eventually I learned that Alonzo would never be the same again. After the injury, the next few seasons were forgettable seasons with Pat Riley eventually leaving and skeptical moves for certain players. Eventually Miami got out of the huge Alonzo Mourning contract and the true rebuilding stage began in 2003-2004. That’s when Miami hit gold when they drafted a superstar.
After seeing Miami have a top ten pick, I started to understand how the off-season began to work at ten years old. They became a young Miami team featuring new talent with veterans to form a solid team. They surprised the entire league and finally started to win. My brother was finally back into it and saw hope in Miami. Dwayne Wade’s buzzer beater in Game 1 of the first round against the Hornets will never be forgotten and that’s when we began to see that he’s going to be the main guy carrying the Heat for years to come. Eventually the dream run ended in the next round to the first seed Pacers but there was optimism and hope in Miami something that was missing since 2001. Then a few months later, the major news was that a monster trade happened. Miami got Shaquille O’Neal in a trade during the 2004-05 season, which immediately made the team instant contenders and really sent a message that Pat Riley was ready to make a move to win a championship.
The season began with a lot of change once again but plenty of star power with O’Neal, Wade, Jones, and a familiar face returning. Alonzo Morning made his return in Miami after being released by Toronto. It was like a gift from god to see Alonzo back even if he was backing up to the most dominant center in NBA history. Miami was playing up to expectations, but they met their match against the Pistons who were coming off their championship season. Despite the big move, Miami was showing that might have gambled too much getting rid of young players like Caron Butler and Lamar Odom. Pat Riley decided to go all out and made a massive trade. They traded for mostly past their prime players in Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, and then Gary Payton through free agency. It was a sketchy trade and I was questioning the future after they became too old to be effective. My brother and I agreed that regardless of the future if Miami can’t win a title with this core then all the effort would go down as nothing.
In the 2005-06 season, Riley had the team playing better, but I had my doubts with the egos around. It was hard to watch not knowing if you would get a good game out of someone like Walker or Williams who were so inconsistent. It was the first time I got to see the Heat live on my birthday against the Nets. My brother got me the tickets but it was a poor performance from the entire team and New Jersey still had a solid team so it wasn’t an embarrassing loss. It was just a shame to see O’Neal look lackluster while Walker might have broke a traveling record that day. My brother and I would always joke that if it were 1998 that Miami would win at least 65 games a season with this roster. They still ended up winning most of their games with Wade transforming into a top five player in the league.
The 2006 playoffs finally were here and it was a shaky start with Miami struggling to put teams away with far less talent than them. It was a repeat showdown of the prior season against the Pistons and it led to a series of physical play and long runs. Eventually, Miami’s swarming defense with James Posey became too much for Detroit. The Heat were going to the NBA Finals for the first time ever.
The Finals started against the Mavericks and it seemed like it was already over before it started. The Mavs went up 2-0 and were close to going up 3-0 but Dwayne Wade went into superstar mode and carried Miami to a series saving win. Miami never looked back and won the next four games in dominating fashion. Dwyane Wade was named the MVP while Shaquille O'Neal won his fourth NBA Title. My brother and I were screaming in our living room finally seeing a team of ours win a championship. I was only 12 years old and experiencing seeing a favorite team of mine win a championship while my brother had to wait 22 years. I’ll never forget bragging about it to friends during the summer how Miami was going to succeed the next year even with a core of past their prime all stars.
The critics were eventually right and the magic of Pat Riley quickly ended. The veterans declined in talent and then Wade and O’Neal got hurt. While I was still young and didn’t fully see this coming, my brother knew it was matter of a time before everything cracked. Wade was too hurt to play at his superstar level and Miami was starting to fade away. They made the playoffs, but it was short lived with Chicago sweeping them in the first round like it was nothing. The next year was the worst year as a Heat fan and I checked out by February once Riley quit, Shaq demanded a trade to Phoenix, and Wade once again was hurt.
It was also the sad ending to the career of Alonzo Morning who tore his patella tendon, which led to an emotional day. My brother and I both knew that he was going to retire soon but this just clearly ended it. We were happy that he at least experienced one championship. It was another rebuilding era for Miami, but in the end Miami was successful going for broke by winning one title and it made me proud to be a Heat fan.
Miami began to rebuild with Eric Spolestra becoming coach and Michael Beasley being the 2nd pick of the 2008 draft for Miami. They had some good moments, but it was more because of Wade playing at a MVP level showing the world that he wasn’t finished. The era between mid 2008 to mid 2010 was mostly forgettable first round exits with disappointments. My only other Heat game I attended was against the Knicks in 2010, which Miami won by 12 points in easy fashion. I got to meet Jermaine O’Neal and Udonis Haslem before the game, which was cool to interact with them considering they saw my Beasley jersey and were interested. I was a major supporter of Beasley and even got his jersey a few months into the season, but he was going to be a goner with Riley ready to spend.
He ended up doing that and turned a team that was one and done along with losing their franchise superstar in Wade to championship contenders. Riley was the mastermind and brought in reigning two time MVP LeBron James along with All-Star Chris Bosh. The big three or “The Unholy Trinity” that I like to call it was formed and it was incredible. I didn’t expect LeBron to come at first, but when those three began to take pictures out and sources were saying Miami could afford LeBron, I got confident and it happened. The Heat became the public enemy number one of the NBA and I was in a friend’s basement smiling as Knick fans were livid that he wasn’t coming to New York.
The first year with the big three (the 2010-2011 season) was very inconsistent with a few five game losing streaks and really questioned the team. They had moments where people would really ask me if they could even contend for the title. It was pretty miserable watching some games with how Bosh was an afterthought at times and lot of missed communication going around. They finally got in their groove against Boston and Chicago, which really made me a true LeBron James fan. I’ve always hated LeBron because of his inability to hit jumpers at times and being a constant loser in the playoffs. After those two rounds, I really felt he turned the corner from that moniker. Instead he faded away and collapsed in the second part of the Finals against Dallas. Miami lost in six games to Dallas and it was tough to digest after seeing collapses in a few games. It was frustrating to see Miami rise up to beat the hottest team in the league in Chicago with LeBron proving to be unstoppable and then seeing him completely collapse especially in the 4th quarter.
This past season was another do or die season similar to 2005-2006 where if they didn’t win, something major would happen. The regular season wasn’t smooth but it was the playoffs where I seriously doubted the team. Indiana looked primed to pull the upset with Bosh hurt and Wade looking like a lost cause. Instead they got it together and pulled it out. Boston was the next challenge and they were taken to the brink of elimination, but seeing how LeBron took over those last two games gave me sincere hope that they would win everything. They handily beat Oklahoma City in five games with so many breakout performances from role players like Battier, Chalmers, and Mike “I can’t believe he’s still playing” Miller. The Heat won the finals and it was more of a sigh of relief than a party. It was a huge moment especially for LeBron who finally backed up the belief that he’s the best player in the world. The monkey was off their back and it was great to see them finally shut the critics up. With the finals win, I lived up to my word to everyone and bought a LeBron jersey after refusing to do so until he delivers a title. After hating his guts while playing for Cleveland, I’ve accepted his greatness.
My long history of being a Heat fan has been a roller coaster, but enjoying two championships makes me feel fortunate. I’ve seen the team be a consistent playoff team minus a few hiccups. I’ve enjoyed being a Heat fan from the Alonzo Morning era to the Dwyane Wade era to the dynamic duo of Wade and James. I’m proud to be a Heat fan that owns an Eddie Jones and Michael Beasley jersey in my closest. I hope that everyone respects my loyalty to the Heat and understands that I truly support the team before the trio was formed. Even though it was more of a recap of watching the team, this is my experience of watching the Miami Heat and how I’m a fan of this crazy franchise. I’ll always stand by this team regardless if they win three titles in a row or if LeBron James and Dwayne Wade tear each of their patella’s, which leads to them announcing their retirement. Loyalty is what truly counts and I’m fortunate enough to be rewarded as a fan.
This is Allen Stevens and I’ll be covering NFL, NBA, and possibly MMA. I’m proud to be on board with everyone on the site and look forward to everyone’s stories along with different opinions. You can reply or interact with me via the following methods.