Festive atmosphere surrounds Miami Heat opener
Local Heat fans turned out early and in large numbers to celebrate the defending NBA champions’ return to the basketball court.
10/30/2012 9:00 PM
09/23/2013 3:55 PM
A son took his mother — a Miami Heat fan for nearly a decade — to her first game.
Two friends claiming a perfect record when they attend Heat games arrived early hoping their streak would continue.
And a kid wearing an interesting combination of Heat and Miami Dolphins gear — symbolic of the battle for the hearts of Miami sports fans between its most established and currently most successful franchises — couldn’t wait to see his favorite basketball team.
Fans lined up hours early on the steps of American-Airlines Arena on Tuesday night, four months after getting swept up in the fervor of the Heat’s second NBA championship and the first with the star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading the way.
“They definitely have a great chance at repeating,” Weston resident Victor Eco said. “I think with them picking up Ray Allen, it’s a great fit for his style and can only help this team.”
Eco and his friend, Miamit resident Albert Javellana, said they are a perfect 9-0 in Heat games they have attended in recent years.
They weren’t the only ones who said seeing Allen in a Heat uniform was a big reason they wanted to attend the first game.
“We not only gained a great player, but we took a big piece away from the Celtics,” Eco said. “I think Allen and Rashard Lewis are unselfish veterans that are going to help us become an even better shooting team. They have something to prove for sure. After all, LeBron said ‘Not one, not two, not three … .”
The arena, filled by tip-off, was nearly full during the Heat’s pregame ring ceremony. Fans sported red and white bracelets that lit up while the arena’s lights were dimmed for the beginning of the ceremony.
“I’m so excited because I’ve been watching the Heat ever since Wade got here, but I’ve never been able to see them in person,” said Gloria Alvarez, who attended her first game with her son Gabriel, who bought her the tickets as a gift.
The Dolphins’ 4-3 start has reenergized the city’s excitement for its beloved football team. But it was clear Tuesday that some fans are finding time for both.
Marcel Perdomo Jr., 11, found a way to support his favorite basketball and football teams by donning a Heat jersey and a Mexican “luchador” mask with the Dolphins logo painted on it. He attended the game with his father, Marcel Sr.
“I bought it for him on a cruise to Mexico,” said Perdomo Sr., who added they try to attend three or four games a year. “He figured the Dolphins just beat the Jets and it’s Halloween [Wednesday] so it would be cool.”
Although he is a fan of both, Perdomo said it was important for the Heat to continue to win championships if it is to establish a long-standing fan loyalty like the Dolphins.
“I’m a true football fan but the Heat is the best team we have right now,” Perdomo said. “I don’t think they’ve overtaken the Dolphins in fan support yet. You see the Dolphins go 7-9 and they still have a ton of people at the games. The Heat needs to go on a couple of more championship runs and keep LeBron signed beyond 2014 and I think they’ll establish something that will last.”
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