Best of Miami®

Best Of 2014


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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Basketball Court

This is one of those courts where you can find a lively pickup game every day. And with three full-size courts on the greentop, there's usually room for you to start your own game too. Because it's just off Biscayne Boulevard, it's easy to find, and there's plenty of free parking. However, since the courts themselves are set so far back from Biscayne, the atmosphere is way more relaxed than you'd expect. The place feels like a playground in the middle of the forest. Plus, if you take a few minutes off the court and explore the park, there's a fine view of Biscayne Bay. And that bay breeze is superrefreshing when you've just sunk the jump shot of the decade.

6447 NE 7th Ave., Miami, 33138
Best Cheap Thrill
Watching Airplanes at Miami International Airport

A round-trip ticket to Barcelona: $1,600. A night's stay in Las Ramblas: $200. Parking your Honda by the train tracks alongside the Dolphin Expressway, watching airplanes land and take off from Miami International Airport, and daydreaming about your summer escape: priceless. Nothing beats the thrill of traveling, but watching airplanes soar just a few hundred feet above you and listening to the sound of their roaring Boeing engines sure comes close, especially when you're right outside one of the busiest international airports in the world. So the next time you want an instant getaway but are too broke to pack your bags and go, take a drive toward Perimeter Road, park your car, and enjoy the free air show.

4200 NW 21st St., Doral, 33122
Best Hurricanes Player

The following preview has not been approved for appropriate audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America:

In a world where a nefarious con man had laid waste to his people's reputation, where a once great force had weakened, where haters doubted a football team's every move, one linebacker rose up to defend his turf. Miami Hurricanes productions brings you the inspiring story of Denzel Perryman, a Miami native who led his team in tackles, had six games with more than ten total tackles, was named first-team ACC, and bypassed the draft to do it all again next season.

"A one-man wrecking crew," claims ESPN.

"Adding his name to the all-time great linebacker conversation at the University of Miami," says State of the U.

"Instincts, quickness, and explosive hitting ability," raves CBS Sports.

Denzel Perryman: Year IV. Coming to a stadium near you in fall 2014. An Al Golden Production. Rated U for gratuitous swagger.

Best Dolphins Player
Brent Grimes

It's been tough to find a silver lining in the Miami Dolphins for the better part of a decade, what with all the suck that has washed over this franchise like a terrible wasting disease. Yet by some miracle, in 2013-14 there was actually at least one player who gave the Fins faithful hope. Cornerback Brent Grimes, who had missed 15 games the previous season after he tore his Achilles tendon while playing for the Atlanta Falcons, was signed by Miami last spring with the hope that he'd contribute a little if he could stay healthy. The 30-year-old Grimes not only contributed and remained healthy but also recorded 60 tackles and four interceptions, and never once allowed a touchdown to an opposing receiver. Grimes' renaissance earned him Pro Bowl honors, and he was rated the NFL's second-best cornerback of the season by prestigious football analysis website Pro Football Focus. Grimes' kick-ass season also garnered him a four-year, $32 million contract extension with the Fins. It was a despair-filled season for Miami, with a bullying scandal that brought embarrassment to the once-proud franchise, and yet another season of missing out on the playoffs. New changes have swept the Dolphins this off-season, and there's always uncertainty with this team. But at least we know that opposing receivers will be on lockdown for the next four years with Grimes manning the defensive backfield.

347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens, 33056
Best Marlins Player
Jose Fernandez

Some sports stars seem to fit seamlessly into their cities, like left hands into well-worn mitts. Derek Jeter was destined for Yankees pinstripes. George Brett was made for the muddy modesty of the Midwest. And Wade Boggs embodied Boston with his blue-collar attitude and bizarre superstitions, like eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes before every game. Under Jeffrey Loria, however, the Marlins haven't had much of an identity. Ozzie Guillen was supposed to imprint some personality, but he confounded Cubans by loving Fidel and lost everyone else by, well, losing games. Last season, when white-bread manager Mike Redmond was plopped atop a flavorless lineup, the Fish's season looked sure to be blander than your abuela's overbaked bacalao. But then, on April 7, after losing five of its first six games, the Marlins called up a young pitching prospect by the name of Jose Fernandez, and an otherwise insipid season suddenly got spicy. By now, you probably know Fernandez's story: Born into poverty in Cuba, he tried to leave three times but failed and found himself in jail. On his fourth attempt, he had to dive overboard to save his mother from drowning. But they made it, first to Mexico and eventually to Tampa. On his Major League debut, Fernandez fanned a rookie record of eight opponents. In another game, he struck out 13 — only to do one better his next time on the mound. He won a team-best 12 games with a miserly 2.19 ERA and an absolutely stingy .182 opponent's batting average. His National League Rookie of the Year award was the diamond atop another 100-loss season. But the real reason Fernandez makes Miamians proud isn't his pitching prowess. It's that the kid has character. Sometimes he's goofy — dancing behind teammates during interviews, joking with opposing players, or celebrating Giancarlo Stanton homers like he just won the lottery. Other times, he's deadly serious. In his last start of the 2013 season, Fernandez was cruising to a win over the Braves when they started talking trash. What did he do? He smacked his first-ever home run in the direction of that godawful dolphin sculpture and then told the Braves they could ride that thing back to Atlanta. Sadly for Fish fans, his 2014 campaign was cut short by Tommy John surgery. But if there's a reason to hope for the future of the franchise, it's his long-term future with the team. Fernandez fits the 305 like an old leather glove.

501 Marlins Way, Miami, 33125
Best Heat Player
Ray Allen
Photo by B137

Seven seconds. The Miami Heat was seven seconds from losing its NBA crown and watching the San Antonio Spurs celebrate the 2013 NBA championship on the Triple-A home court. Heat fans were seven seconds from having their hearts ripped out of their chests and their souls condemned to a weary and sullen existence of pondering the cruel fate of their beloved team. The finals, to all intents and purposes, was over. Done. Kaput. The Spurs were up 95-92 and were seven seconds from the title. The home crowd was already exiting the building, the Spurs locker room was being covered in plastic for the champagne celebration, the ministage was being readied to be rolled out onto the court for the trophy presentation, and yellow tape was being unfurled to keep nonessential personnel from walking onto the court during the Spurs' coronation. Then it happened. Suddenly, before us, a dark horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed closely behind. They were given power over a fourth of the Earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the Earth. The rider wore a robe dipped in blood. From his mouth emerged a sword in the form of a three-point shot. And the heavens shook. Ray Allen, AKA Jesus Shuttlesworth, hit the most epic three-pointer in Miami Heat history, tying the game and forcing overtime. The game, along with the series momentum, shifted in the Heat's favor, and the home team eventually won its second NBA championship. But not before Ray sealed his iconic status in Heat lore forevermore by hitting "The Shot" and then yelling at the arena security people to get rid of that damn yellow rope.

601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33131

Best Basketball Court: Legion Park


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