But for a short break, there has been a definitive sports star in Miami for the last 36 years. No argument. In a matter of weeks, however, that time will end. The area will be without a true sports star. This has us asking the obvious: Who is next?
From 1983, when the Dolphins drafted Dan
Now, with Wade on the verge of retirement after the Heat's season mercifully ends, there will be a void no player can easily fill. There are some applicants for the job, though — both guys already in Miami and potential near-future arrivals.
Here's a look at who could be the next great Miami sports star. The pickings are slim, but these are our best guesses to wear the crown Wade will soon vacate.
He's still young (22) and having the best season of his career since moving to point guard during the absence of Goran Dragic. Winslow also has the sort of fun and outgoing personality that could easily sell in Miami. He's not there yet, but if he continues to improve on the court, he could be Miami's biggest sports star for the next decade.
2. Kyler Murray. He's not in Miami yet, but if the Dolphins are able to nab Kyler Murray in April's NFL Draft, he'd instantly be the favorite to wear the crown.
Dolphins fans have never seen a quarterback close to Murray. It could be shockingly exciting to watch the Oklahoma QB scramble and make plays with his athleticism. With new coach Brian Flores coming in and Ryan Tannehill on his way out, it's the perfect time to change the Dolphins look and add a quarterback who is more 2019 than 2009. If Murray succeeds, he and the Dolphins would instantly be the hottest thing in town.
3. Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa. The future of Marlins baseball includes (they hope, at least) a pair of brothers taking the field together — Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. If they hit the big-league stage as planned, it could be one of the most exciting things the franchise has ever seen. Baseball may be an afterthought in Miami now, but it won't be if these brothers start winning multiple World Series in three years.
The Cuban brothers chose to sign with the Marlins this offseason after speaking to a handful of clubs. Victor Victor, at the time of his signing, was the top-ranked international free-agent prospect. Now, he's one of the best Marlins prospects, and possibly not far from the majors. Mesa Jr. is still only 17, but is also talented and could become just as valuable.
Thinking of the Mesas hitting back-to-back in the Marlins lineup in a few years is exciting, and could revitalize baseball in Miami. That's the plan, anyway.
4. Mystery NBA free agent guy. Yup. One of, like, a lot of guys. Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler — any of them would become the biggest sports star in Miami upon signing. It would be great, but not as great as if Justise Winslow or Bam Adebayo skyrocketed to legend status.
Seeing a guy come into the league as a nobody with your team and turn into a Hall of Fame player will always feel more real than the Heat signing or trading someone who started here. Alonzo Mourning isn't on the level of Dwyane Wade. The Heat didn't draft him. Hell, LeBron James isn't on Wade's level. The attachment isn't/wasn't the same.
Heat fans would take a star, though. Miami would, too. A top ten NBA player would instantly be the most important sports figure in town.
5. Neymar. This one may take some time. Neymar still has to play out a few more years of lucrative contracts. But if Major League Soccer takes off in Miami and the Brazilian star joins David Beckham's team — and he recently indicated he would be open to this — he could instantly be a star here. Soccer could be the future of Miami sports. It has a chance. If Miami starts exciting people and wins MLS titles on the base of electrifying goals by Neymar, it could catch fire fast.
In addition, Neymar is very Miami. He would fit the mold. He's already on the side of a building here. He would attract much national attention to the Magic City.
If Beckham can lure Neymar to Miami in the near future, he may catch lightning in a bottle.