I witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history. No, I did not fuel up my private jet to watch game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in Chicago. Rather armed in a LeBron James jersey I attended the Heat road rally at the American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami. They were broadcasting the game live on a massive screen on the side of the arena. Biscayne Boulevard was closed off taken over by food trucks and big bellied fans sitting in beach chairs.
At 7 PM, an hour and a half before tipoff the street was packed. The emcee, DJ Irie, greeted the crowd with “Why can’t y’all show up this early for the home games?”
There are two reasons for this. One is demographics. The Eurotrash and hedge fund managers that can afford the $300 courtside seats are not slaves to time while this crowd was working class. One that lined up for fried candy bars on a stick rather than caviar. The second reason was the rapper Ludacris performed for free. He had the crowd moving and cheering when he spoke of how the Miami Heat were going to kick the collective ass of the Chicago Bulls. He reminded himself, “Lot of young ones out there so I’m going to keep this a clean show.” But then a couple moments later he went into the hit song with the rousing chorus, “Move bitch, get out of the way… get out of the way….”
The game started. It was too claustrophobic, fortunately there was a makeshift bar set up on a sidewalk at the South end of the arena. The bottled water was $4 and the only beer they had were $6 bottles of Miller Lite, but they had tables, chairs, and a few TVs set up. We were ready, but the Miami Heat were not. Road games are notoriously difficult to win in the playoffs, but the offensive performance the Miami Heat put up was pathetic. The rabblerousers at the bar were trying to get the team going by chanting, “Let’s go Heat” and “Defense” as though the Heat could somehow hear them a thousand miles away.
One barfly tried to get a chant going about Heat forward, Chris Bosh, that consisted of “Dino-saur Dino-saur.” When no one joined him he explained, “Bro, it’s cause he looks like a dinosaur.”
All their energy was not working on the Miami Heat. The team looked like they had caught the flu. Superstar Dwyane Wade was especially out of sorts. Earlier in the playoffs there had been coverage of his problem with migraines which would be a feasible excuse for his uneven play.
With four and a half minutes left and the Miami Heat down by 12 I said to my love interest, “Let’s go home.”
“Now?” she asked. “After being here for five hours we’re going to leave here before it’s over?” We stayed but I felt there was no way we could win. 45 minutes of the game had elapsed and we had only scored 65 points, but then LeBron James hit a three. And then Dwyane Wade hit a three while getting fouled. And then down by only three points LeBron James stroked another three that was as pure as a zealot’s hate.
The Chicago Bulls missed a couple more shots while the Miami Heat made theirs. With one final possession the Heat played stellar defense swatting away fraudulent MVP Derrick Rose’s final attempt and did this actually happen? We won! 83-80. The crowd went nuts. High fives all around. Strangers hugged each other. Cars drove home with their horns honking and children throughout the city were conceived. If it is a boy he will be named LeBron, a girl they shall call her Spoelstra.