Is South Florida Ready For What Is About To Happen???
I have lived in South Florida for almost 85% of my life.
I know the history of South Florida pretty well, and I know the history of South Florida sports extremely well.
What has transpired in the last 24 hours down here has been nothing short of amazing in all aspects. And while I understand and can sympathize with the emotions that others are dealing with all over the country less than 24 hours removed from LeBron James’ decision to play for the Heat, I cannot help but wear a big grin on my face as I know that I am about to witness incredible basketball for the foreseeable future.
And while all of these incredible events continue to unfold right in front of my eyes, 1 lingering thought sticks with me – Can Miami, a football town, embrace the sport of basketball and specifically these three incredible players in the same way that they hold Don Shula and Dan Marino in their hearts??
I hate to say it, but I have my doubts. The last thing that I would want to see is this chapter in the Heat’s history, and the NBA’s for that matter, be given step-child status by a state that only elevates its athletes that wear shoulder pads.
In my lifetime the Miami Dolphins have never won anything. In fact, I can vividly recall more losing than winning. Yet this team, and their activities are front and center for 365 days a year.
Now I am not saying that the South Florida area does not have loyal fans of the other major sports teams, but if you look at the attendance numbers, merchandise sales, and television ratings, it is clear that this region of the state lives and breathes pigskin.
Take the Marlins’ for example. I have enjoyed 2 World Series titles by my home team in the last 14 years. And while the state was a-buzz while the run was happening, it didn’t take hold until the team was well into the playoffs. Hell, the Marlins have one of the best offensive players in the sport on their roster while also having a Top 5 pitcher on their staff and they fail to bring 15,000 fans to their home games. Same with the Panthers team that made the Stanley Cup finals more than a decade ago. And even just a few years ago when the Heat won the title in 2006 – stands were empty for 75% of the year.
But now things are different. 3 players have come together to accomplish one specific goal – WIN. Win at all costs should be their motto as each of these players took significantly smaller contracts in exchange for the desire to build basketball history together. And since it seems like South Florida enjoys the aspect of ‘fair-weather’, I see some very big summers ahead for the next half-decade or more.
I cannot wait for the tip-off to the NBA season. Living where I live, I should have more access to this team and their games than someone who does not live nearby. It will be very fun and interesting to see how these guys adapt to one another as they merge three of the top ten talents in the league into one machine that has one goal.
Allow me to make a few predictions:
- LeBron James will have the #1 selling jersey in 2010-2011
- A statue of Pat Riley will be erected outside of the AAA within the next five years
- The Miami Heat will win 3-4 NBA championships in the next 5 years
- The Miami Heat will be a destination for aging/quality stars that want to win championships before they retire
- Alonzo Mourning will have a mentor-type role with the team and will ultimately get all three guys active in his charitable work around Miami
- The NBA will grant Miami an All-Star game within the next 3-4 years
- Contending teams will build like never before – more dynasties will be created giving the league a few elite teams and a ton of sub-par teams
Are you ready for what is about to unfold? I hope so – it is going to be unlike anything ANY of us have seen before!!!
Buckle up Miami!!!!