With fewer than a dozen games left in the season, the Heat seems a virtual lock to make the playoffs after a one-year hiatus from the postseason. What seed the Heat will capture and the identity of Miami's first-round opponent, though, are still very much up in the air. Whichever team the Heat draws in the first round will have something special coming its way. That team will face an obstacle many Heat foes have met, but few, if any, have come away unscathed.
No, we're not talking about top-three shooting guard of all-time Dwyane Wade or seven-foot, superhero-looking center Hassan Whiteside. The Heat's playoff opponents will have the unlucky chore of dealing with a much more petty, cutthroat, unapologetic foe: Heat Twitter. Hashtag just the facts.
Heat Twitter doesn't give a single shit. These people will roast and toast anyone and everyone who isn't affiliated with the home team. It's no coincidence Twitter debuted just a few days before the Heat won its first title in 2006. The platform was basically invented for Miami fans.
Here is how you know if you're a card-carrying member of Heat Twitter.
1. You're blocked on Twitter by Bill Simmons, Michelle Beadle, or anyone else from ESPN. In 2010, before these Twitter streets become more policed and civil (yes, they were once worse), Heat Twitter unleashed holy hell upon anyone who dared take a shot at the Big Three. Heat Twitter was already a place for hardened fans of Miami's NBA team, but once Chris Bosh and LeBron James helped form a juggernaut superteam in Miami, it emboldened cocky Heat fans. And when Heat fans with swagger encounter a hater online, it normally goes about as well as you'd expect.
The Big Three era was like putting Mentos in the soda of Heat Twitter. It was messy. It was rude. It got many members blocked on Twitter for using Photoshop in ways that would make comedian Anthony Jeselnik blush. Are the diehards of Heat Twitter proud of everything they did online during this time? Probably not. But they started it! Mostly.
2. Your Twitter feed is messy when it comes to mentions of LeBron James. Most, but definitely not all, Heat fans have come full-360 on LeBron James. Before July 2010, he was simply the best player in basketball, but after the "Decision" that took his "talents to South Beach," the relationship got much more complicated. When the rest of the world hated James for leaving Cleveland, Heat fans took up arms to defend him.
The rest of the world's hatred for him during his stay in Miami was vicious and many times over the line, which led to many Heat fans fighting fire with fire. When James abruptly left Miami to return to the Cavaliers, things took a petty turn for Heat Twitter. If he was playing in a charity bowling tournament, they'd tune in to live-tweet their hopes for his failure. Now, years later, it's not as big of a deal. Water is under the bridge, and LeBron James is a guy who had a huge hand in lifting two banners in Miami.
Wounds have healed, but the tweets remain — unless you've since applied for a job. In that case, you definitely deleted them. You're not crazy!
3. You've played coach Tony Fiorentino bingo. When Fox Sports Florida closes up shop this season, it will end the broadcasting career of Miami Heat color man Tony Fiorentino. With the Heat since its inception in 1988, Coach Tony has spent 15 years as a regular member of the team's TV broadcast team. A favorite of Heat Twitter, Coach Tony has some reassuring sayings and verbal tics that were such an inside joke that, at one point, a bingo sheet of them was circulated.
To someone who's not a part of Heat Twitter, this probably makes no sense. Just know it was hilarious at the time and we'll very much miss Tony sitting next to "Ewwic" during next season's telecasts.
4. Declaring a seat change will help you and your followers turn bad juju around. "Change your seat, change your Heat," is a superstition Heat Twitter believes. Are you not going to do it and test the NBA gods? No. If Kyrie Irving can believe the Earth is flat, we can believe switching which ass cheek we put more weight on can reset things for the Heat.
Heat Twitter believes a plethora of superstitions, but changing your seat to get yourself some new Heat juju is by far the most tested and true one of the bunch.
On this date 5 years ago, LeBron dunked all over Jason Terry. pic.twitter.com/wJW0odrmiN— ESPN (@espn) March 18, 2018
5. You've committed some famous play calls to memory and tweet them often. There are two famous calls every Heat Twitter member knows: "Chalmers, Cole, Jaaaaammmmmes" and "Rebound Bosh. Back out to Allen. His three-pointer. Bannnnnnnnngggg!" Any Heat fan worth the internet space of his or her Twitter account could identify those two plays if just the sound played at a low volume at Kohl's.
Those two phrases — one uttered by Mike Tirico in Boston in 2013, the other from Mike Breen in Miami later in those same playoffs — will one day be taught in Heat Fan 101 in South Florida schools. These are the moments Heat fans remember and live for. They're like Lay's potato chips, but instead of not being able to eat just one, fans can't watch them just once.
6. You know what the hashtag #ofcourse means. Nothing puts fear into a Heat fan like watching an opponent struggle to find a shot with two seconds left. You'd think that scenario would be great for the home team, but it's not. It's terrible. That's because, inevitably, the Heat's opponent always figures out a way to hit a buzzer-beater. That, friends, is the textbook definition of #ofcourse.
All of Heat Twitter will let you the #ofcourse hashtag makes an appearance just about every night — hell, sometimes multiple times a night. Some people have tried to dispute the existence of the phenomenon of Heat opponents draining buzzer-beaters like a wide-open pop-a-shot, but the video evidence of its existence is overwhelming.
7. You have a love-hate relationship with the "Seven Nation Army" chant. Most Heat fans love it when "Seven Nation Army" comes on in the arena. It usually means shit is lit. But Heat Twitter has pointed out through the years an interesting coincidence: When the chant gets going, bad things happen. Does that sound ridiculous? Yes. Yes it does. Does it make us believe in it being a real thing any less? No. Not a chance.
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"Seven Nation Army" is played at bowling tournaments on ESPN these days. It's no longer a Heat thing. We have to admit that when Miami is running up the score, it feels pretty damn good to blast the White Stripes. But there is just a huge part of Heat Twitter that thinks the song played its role and needs to be retired.
Happy 73rd birthday to Pat Riley. pic.twitter.com/B5ULkabm9M— 7 Sports Xtra (@7SportsXtra) March 20, 2018
8. In Pat Riley and Udonis Haslem you trust. Pat Riley is a genius to all Heat fans, but on Heat Twitter, he's risen to god status. In regards to Udonis Haslem, Heat Twitter has one rule: There is no Haslem slander allowed. Zip. None. Don't do it. Both Riles and Udonis are made men in Miami. They are on the Mount Rushmore of Miami Heat legends.
If Riley and Udonis walk past you on South Beach, you take a knee and bow your head. These are the rules by which Heat Twitter lives. For two men who have done so much for the franchise, there is no other way.