For Miami Heat fans, promise fulfilled

As the Miami Heat’s lead skyrocketed Thursday night from 5 just

after halftime to an insurmountable 24 by the end of the third

quarter, their fans outside the AmericanAirlines Arena decided it

was time to celebrate the team’s second NBA championship in six

years.

The thousands gathered in bars, restaurants and a park near the

arena screamed in joy late Thursday as the Heat dropped one

3-pointer after another. Fans used the fourth quarter to get an

early start on their party as they watched their team coast to a

121-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won the series

in five games.

The promise made to South Florida fans 23 months earlier when

LeBron James and Chris Bosh added their talents to Dwyane Wade’s

had arrived.

”We’re bringing the championship home to Miami. LeBron promised

us a ring and he got us our ring,” said Ivine Mulkey, 32.

Orlando Hernandez, 33, noted it had been a team effort, with

major Game 5 contributions coming from supporting players Mike

Miller, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.

”This is the best game they’ve ever had – the best final. It’s

unbelievable how they stepped up. It’s not just one person. It’s

everybody,” Hernandez said.

As the game ended, the fans from the neighborhood bars pushed

happily toward the arena, meeting those leaving the game to jump,

whoop and holler. They banged pots and pans and blew whistles.

Championship shirts were sold, and special editions of The Miami

Herald were handed out. Traffic on Biscayne Boulevard outside the

arena was gridlocked.

The only negativity came when the Thunder’s team bus left the

arena – some fans sprayed it with liquid and made obscene gestures

toward the players as it crawled away. Still, Miami police reported

no serious problems after the game.

James, the regular season and Finals MVP, may be hated in

Cleveland and elsewhere for leaving his native state’s Cavaliers,

but his adopted hometown showered him with love after the game.

Fans waved posters of their hero and defended him against critics,

who branded him a choker who would never win a championship.

”Silence the haters – LeBron did it,” said Matthew Gonzalez,

21.

Fans were already making plans for next season. After all, James

promised not just one championship. Or just two, three, four, five,

six or seven.

”We’re going to win next year too. This is just the

beginning,” fan Samantha Stevens said.