The Miami Heat is about to make a huge, completely avoidable mistake, and it can all be fixed by reversing a decision that doesn't even go into effect next season. There is still time to keep coach Tony Fiorentino on the team's broadcast in 2018.
Fiorentino is working his 15th season on the Heat TV broadcasting team, and he's been a part of the Heat family for 30 years. Yes, he's been with the franchise since day one. But the Heat suddenly decided this offseason that this would be Fiorentino's last as play-by-play man Eric Reid's sidekick, although the team announced it would keep him around with other roles, including running summer camp.
Nope. Not cool, Heat. No Fiorentino on the telecasts is like no jelly in our PB&J. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been around forever, and people haven't attempted to fix them. You know why? Because PB&J sammies aren't broken.
Please don't take away our jelly, Miami Heat. There is no need to experiment. Stick with Fiorentino.
His history with the team is longer than just about anyone else's. He started as an assistant coach under Ron Rothstein in 1988 and held onto the job under Alvin Gentry and Pat Riley before moving full-time to the TV booth in 2004 as color commentator. His Heat-boosting enthusiasm has been a staple of broadcasts, especially his trademark "Yeah, baby!" after big plays.
Heat fanatics aren't the only ones who appreciate what Fiorentino has brought to this team. He's beloved by his peers too. Awful Announcing did a nice job of documenting comments that ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy and play-by-play commentator Mike Breen made during last week's Heat-Spurs game in which the two were both critical of the Heat's decision to axe their longtime employee:
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“Eric Reid, the play-by-play man, Tony Fiorentino, the former coach, the analyst, they’ve been together for over 20 years doing the local broadcasts for the Heat, and not only are they fantastic on the air, they’re beloved here. And I agree with you, I was shocked.” Van Gundy went on to say “I love turning on a Heat game and knowing who you’re listening to. They’re legendary. That would be like the Spurs sending Tim Duncan out to pasture before he was ready.”
Word on the street is the Heat has already been trying out people to fill Fiorentino's role next season, including ex-Heat player Caron Butler. Though Butler was a fan favorite during his two years with the Heat before he was shipped off to Los Angeles in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal, just the thought of him sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Eric Reid on the Heat telecasts is weirding us out. Hard pass, Heat.
Don't do this, Miami Heat. Save Tony Fiorentino.