I think I’ve finally figured it out. I get it. I get why people hate the Miami Heat.
is too easy to make fun of or that LeBron James has a receding hairline.
It’s that Miami does not deserve this success. Forget that people hate Miami for its one-season-a-year climate, The U and housing Jersey Shore for a season — South Florida also houses the best (worst?) bandwagon fans in the country.
I have recently been able to shake off my pastel and art deco sunglasses to see that my hometown for nearly 20 years should not get a title this year.
In real sports towns like New York, Boston and Philadelphia, franchises are worshiped, not teams; legends are made, not rented.
The formula to get support in Miami has always been simple: win. It’s no secret in this town and the Florida/Miami Marlins are a prime example. When they win, they win big. The Marlins have reached the postseason just twice in their history but have won the World Series both times. They do not have a division title but own two world championships.
During the 1997 and 2003 World Series runs, 67,000 Marlins “fans” packed the spacious then-Pro Player Stadium after annually ranking near the bottom of the league in attendance during the regular season.
But when the Marlins don’t make the playoffs? Franchise-moving talks return, as does indifference in South Florida. But thanks to a new, publicly-funded ballpark, that chatter has dissipated.
So with a brand new stadium and off-season acquisitions Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Carlos Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins are drawing capacity crowds, right? Eh, not so much. On any given night, you can see a few sections completely empty but the attendance figures won’t show that. In the five games I have attended since mid-May, there has been an empty seat either next to me or in front of me three times.
But when the Red Sox stroll into Marlins Park over the next three days, tickets will be tough to come by simply because the game has become an event.
For South Florida sports franchises, event planning and season ticket sales have been merged into one job. A miniature version of The Clevelander, a South Beach staple, has been installed beyond the left field fence and next to the bullpen for fans that want to see and be seen. The Dolphins have instituted a satellite of Liv, a Miami Beach hotspot club, in their stadium, complete with solid white seats overlooking the action.
If you want to see Miami natives at their best, don’t head to the clubs, the bars or the beach. Go to a Heat game. You’ll see girls rocking heels and guys wearing button-downs. Because they are not going to a game, they are going to an event.
Teams would rather lure in people by showing them the game can be a party instead of proceeding by traditional marketing methods because Miamians don’t truly care about the game. Show them a good time and some trophies and they’ll surely be satisfied.
Barely any current Heat fans know that the last player to wear No. 6 was Mario Chalmers. They don’t know that Mike Miller was Rookie of the Year before he became a hobbled, scraggly, three-point shooting specialist. Some Marlins fans don’t know Mike Stanton and Giancarlo Stanton are the same guy. Dolphins fans could not name five guys on defense.
Miami is in the midst of one the best years in the city’s sports history. The Marlins finally made a splash and are being feature on Showtime’s The Franchise. The Florida Panthers reached the playoffs for the first time in ages. The Dolphins will be the subject of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Miami is suddenly the sexiest sports city on the planet — and undeservedly so.
So go ahead and root for the Thunder. I’ll just slip my red and yellow shades back on and hope the Big Three can bring Miami the title it does not deserve.
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