Sports

A Beginner's Guide to Joining #HeatTwitter Before the NBA Playoffs

Believe it or not, the Miami Heat is in the NBA playoffs again. We sincerely hope you enjoyed sleeping during all those stress-free nights earlier in the season. Any Heat fan who has been around the block a time or two will tell you those days are over. Miami Heat playoff games are a different beast.

Whatever you're watching on Netflix will have to wait, because things are about to get super real from 8 to 11 p.m. every night. Stock up on alcohol and snacks. We're going in.

Most Heat fans will tell you this is the time of year that #HeatTwitter shines and all hell breaks loose.

Mute buttons will be needed. Accounts will be deactivated. People will definitely get blocked. Much fun will be had.

For those unfamiliar with how #HeatTwitter rolls during the playoffs, here's a little guide to help you understand what's going on so you can blend in. Come, join us.
When in doubt, "Heat in 5." If you know, you know. Over the years, it has become a tradition for cocky Heat fans to puff out their chests and predict the Heat easily defeats any opponent. The inside joke is that it's always "Heat in 5," also known as a "gentleman's sweep."

Predicting the Heat will win four straight games and sweep an opponent wouldn't be realistic. We obviously need to gift them a win in there at some point. It's simple logic, folks.
Meet the Heat Rally Squirrel. Don't ask questions. I must admit, I am to blame for this one. During the Big Three era, things got weird. All the winning was a drug. I'm not exactly sure how, but I ended up in a place on Google where the above squirrel dressed in a Miami Heat cheerleading costume called home. I took her in, crowned her the Miami Heat Rally Squirrel, and the powers were born.

Doubt it all you want, but it works. If the Heat is down 15 and you post this squirrel on Twitter, good shit happens. Mark my words. Fifty percent of the time, it works every time.
Change your seat, change your Heat. The concept here is not that hard to understand: If the Heat is playing well, don't you dare move. Need to pee? HOLD IT. Hungry? Ask for help. House on fire? OK, probably in that case it's all right to get up. Judgment call on your part.

On the flip side, if the Heat is stinking the joint up, you move. You move until you get it right. You sit on a ceiling fan. You go outside and sit in a tree. You do your part. The universe is counting on you. Do not laugh. Three championships don't lie. This stuff is scientific.
Never jinx a win before the game is truly over. For too long, Heat fans have had to continually learn that you never tweet about a win until the game is actually over. Up 39 in the second quarter? Weirder things have happened — don't go peacocking just yet. Up 20 with five minutes left? Hold off a minute, bro. Just wait until there's less than a minute left in the game, at least.

Don't test the NBA gods by assuming a victory before the game is over. Lessons will be learned the hard way.
Camby gif. How did a gif of a famous New York Knick telling someone to "get out" become something every Heat fan has saved to their computer? Who knows. Does any of this make sense, really? It just is.

If you see someone come at the Miami Heat the wrong way on Twitter, chances are you'll find a stream of this gif in the mentions. It's tradition.
#BurnTheBoats. As the story goes, a commander once told his army to build boats they would take across the sea to fight their enemy. After his men built the vessels and sailed to their destination, he told them to burn the boats. As one would imagine, they were confused, but he explained that if fleeing in the boats were no longer an option, they would stay and fight harder than they ever had before.

Legend has it that Pat Riley told one of his teams that story. Now, when faced with adversity, #HeatTwitter uses the tale as motivation.
Do something, or exit. There's a hashtag Miami Heat fans use when it's time for the Heat to decide if it's going to exit the playoffs a loser, or get its shit together and reverse its fortunes: #FoW. Folks, that stands for "Fuck or Walk." Yes, that F stands for the word you never want to hear come out of your child's mouth.

Some people say it's time to put up or shut up. Miami Heat fans say #FoW. At least they use a hashtag. Earmuffs, kids.
Know your podcasts and Twitch streams. Anyone can click a link to the Sun Sentinel or Miami Herald and get some news, but true members of #HeatTwitter log on to a Twitch stream after the game to see their fellow brothers and sisters in fandom screaming at the top of their lungs. I like my takes boiling and without sugarcoating.

A personal favorite is Hangover Time, a Miami Heat Beat podcast. The host, Alf, will give it to you like it needs to be given, always drunk. That's how I prefer my Heat news.
Know your alternative Heat news sources. As mentioned above, true card-carrying members of #HeatTwitter need their news in all shapes and forms. The Five Reasons Sports Network is a good recommendation if you're looking for a mixture of fan takes and actual sourced news.

Founded by Ethan Skolnick, a former Heat reporter for South Florida news outlets, Five Reasons Sports is a one-stop shop for all the silly sauce that comes with being on Twitter, but also all of the news.
"Winning." Over the past two years, the Miami Heat's social-media accounts have started a tradition fans have grown to crave: the "Winning" edit. If the team wins, this is where you need to look to officially celebrate first. It's a very in-your-face, ha-ha troll job, and we're here for it.

In the end, it's Heat in 5. Or seven. We'll take a Heat series win however we can get it, as long as it gets our favorite basketball team back to the NBA Finals.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi