Thank You Miami Heat

I’m a huge sports fan. For 18 months I had a dream job. I owned a sports gift shop. Unfortunately a few things conspired against me, including a divorce, a debilitating illness and some bad economic factors, and so I had to shut it down. This was 1992-1994. The Heat were still a very new team, the Marlins and Panthers were brand new and the only team that had a real chance at a championship was the Dolphins. Or so we thought…

I wanted to take a few minutes to thank the Miami Heat for bringing sports fans in South Florida a championship. Pat Riley, Mickey Arison, Dwayne Wade and the rest of the Heat players deserve all of the credit for that but I want to acknowledge some people that aren’t going to be mentioned by any of the media tonight but that deserve to be recognized for keeping the Heat going over the past 18 years.

Ron Rothstein: He was the first ever head coach of the team. He suffered a 17-game losing streak to start franchise history, later he came back as head coach of the ill-fated Miami Sol of the WNBA and is currently an assitant coach for the Heat.

Ron Culp:
The only trainer the Heat have ever had. His wife recently died. I’m sure she’s smiling down on him right now.

Kevin Loughery: Who coached the Heat to respectability and their first playoff appearance.

Stan Van Gundy: Who took over the team on short notice 3 years ago and overachieved with a team nobody expected to do anything. The next year he took a re-vamped team to within a couple of minutes of the Heat’s first NBA Finals appearance (with an injured Shaq and Wade). He was thanklessly ousted at the beginning of this season even though he didn’t have the benefit of a healthy line-up.

Tony Fiorentino: An assistant coach for the Heat for something like 14 or 15 years. He is now the color voice of the Heat on TV.

Rony Seikaly: The first ever pick of the Miami Heat. He still lives in Miami and is a season ticket holder. He can always be seen courtside.

Sherman Douglas, Vernell “Bimbo” Coles, and Kevin Edwards: 3 great Heat guards

Glen Rice:
Who “made nice” with many threes over the years.

Steve Smith: Smitty “made pretty” with many threes as well.

Tim Hardaway: Who had “skeeels” and a mean crossover dribble.

Grant Long, Keith Askins and Bruce Bowen: Three dependable defenders.

Brian Grant and PJ Brown: Two great power forwards.

Anthony Mason: Who along with Brian Grant and Hardaway willed the Heat to the playoffs the year Alonzo Mourning developed his illness.

Allen Ogg: The human victory cigar. He only ever got into the game with 2 minutes to go and a 20 point Heat lead.

All of the Miami Heat Broadcasters including:
Eric Reid who has been the TV voice of the Heat since the beginning, David Halberstam the best radio voice the team has ever had, Doctor Jack Ramsey, Jose Pañeda the Spanish voice of the Heat, and Mike Inglis the current voice of the Heat on radio.

And lastly all the fans: People who think Miami is a lousy sports town haven’t been to a Heat game. Many years the Heat were plain lousy and yet there were always fans. I was a season ticket holder (either personally or through my employer) during several of those seasons. Those fans that sat around me certainly had the passion.

I want to acknowledge two special Heat fans: Antonio “Bebo” Estrada and his wife, “Chiqui”. Bebo was my wife’s grandfather who was a youth basketball coach for many years and the biggest Heat fan I ever knew. He would watch the games and listen in Spanish with his walkman. I was fortunate enough to take Bebo to his first ever Heat game in person a few years ago. I’m thankful for having had that experience. Bebo kept a season log of all the scores. He died a couple of years ago in mid-season. He was survived by his wife who keeps his score log faithfully to this day. Tonight she’s a very happy woman.


4 thoughts on “Thank You Miami Heat”

  1. great post henry.. i especially liked the nod to the oggman, i remember the early days at the arena, when id buy a nosebleed for a couple bucks and then sneak down after the half.. however, you forgot one key figure.. MELLOW BROWN (best in town).. no heat game was complete without a visit to him…

  2. I feel exactly as you do, Henry. I remember going to my first Heat game during their first season (they actually won the game). Of all the people you mentioned and many more, the one I’m the happiest for has got to be Zo. All of his health problems with the kidney, plus all the unlucky bounces his old Heat teams had to endure in the playoffs, he finally got to achieve the ultimate goal.

    I agree about the Heat fans too. The Heat do the best public relations work of any pro sports team in Miami, and it shows in the stands and in the way they entertain during games. Also, they are a classy franchise and treat all their players like gold. Just look at all the ex-Heat players who still surround the team years after they left.

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