It was Game 7. Miami Heat versus Boston Celtics.The winner of this basketball game goes to the Finals, the loser starts their summer vacation. After giving up on my Heat for the eightieth time this season, their game 6 victory over the Celtics roped me back in. I cautiously believed we could get to the Finals and after years of being a Heat fan in the California wilderness where the average person couldn’t care less if the Heat won or lost I wanted to be amongst my people during what would either be a moment of elation or hard core distress.
The game was on the second Saturday of June which was also when the Wynwood artwalk is held. All the art galleries are open, food trucks are out, and the streets are packed with people. We walked into the only bar in the area with big screen tv’s, The Wood Tavern. The bar was packed, but I noticed I was the only one wearing a Miami Heat jersey. This was a troubling sign. Even worse was we could not find a seat with a decent view of the TV on the outside patio. There was a tree obstructing the screen. But much, much worse then that was the fact that no one at the bar really seemed to care about the game. People were taking up prime seats with their backs turned to the television.
But even the people watching didn’t seem to give a damn. When I tried to start, “Let’s Go Heat!” chants I was sneered at.
Part of this indifference was because the Heat put together a lackadaisical effort in the first half where they fell far behind, but these hipsters also got me cynical about my city. Where was the pride? Where was the community spirit? If we couldn’t get rowdy over millionaires bouncing an orange ball, where can we ever hope to find common ground? We’re sure as heck not going to be bonding over blood drives and literacy campaigns.
I was persuaded to leave at halftime. Even with the disappoinment of the crowd, I didn’t want to miss a second of this crucial game. Driving back home we had to listen to much of the third quarter on the car radio, but we stopped at a bar called the Democratic Republic of Beer where we found a seat, some libations, and fellow fans with enthusiasm. As the Heat made their comeback, we cheered and we shouted “Let’s Go Heat” and “Defense!” as though the Miami Heat could hear us a mile away. Cheers were followed by high fives and smiles.
Miami is the poorest big city in the country, but on this night we were all tycoons. From the slums of Overtown to the suburban sprawl in Kendall to the gated mansions of Star Island even the hipsters in Wynwood. We drove around town honking at hollering and everyone had a smile on their face. But none of the smiles were bigger than those found in the Miami Heat locker room.