Miami Heat fans, like Miamians in general, are an eclectic bunch. No fan base is more diverse in just about every way. From age to race to social class, Heat fans come in a multitude of shapes and sizes that make them one of the most misunderstood and unpredictable fan bases in any sport.
That misunderstanding might be one of the reasons the Heat has the most disrespected fan base in the NBA. You don't have to look very hard to find someone talking trash about Heat fans. The haters are everywhere, spreading straight-up lies that continue a narrative that basketball fans in Miami are somehow less-than.
There are some clear talking points outsiders love to mention when dissing Heat fans. Here are the most common ones to date.
Me talking about Heat fans arriving late to games yet here I am... late to the game today pic.twitter.com/lnEmV0yylD— The Nard Dawg (@YoSoyDiego_91) November 4, 2019
Miami Heat fans can't figure out how to sit in their seats before tip-off.
For some reason, the Heat has the only fans in the league with a reputation for not being in their seats when games start. This myth, of course, couldn't be farther from the truth — arenas all over the league are half-full when games begin, especially those with a 7 p.m. tip-off. Working until 5:30 p.m. and then getting caught in rush-hour traffic on the way to a game is not unique to Miami — it happens all over the league.
Why, then, do Heat fans wear this scarlet letter? Our guess is because the Heat have been on national television more than most teams over the years, so isolated instances of tardiness are spotlighted a lot more than they are in, say, Atlanta, where nobody has been watching or cares.
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 6, 2019
75 games to go. ????KEEP IT GOIN! pic.twitter.com/ycImbU6s8V
When LeBron left, so did all the so-called fake Miami Heat fans.
The Heat is seventh in the NBA in attendance this season. Translation: Heat fans didn't go anywhere after LeBron James left for Cleveland in 2014. Nothing has changed.
The Heat is always Top 5 in the NBA in attendance. Not only that, but also Miami is a Top 10 team in terms of road attendance, meaning even without LeBron around, fans still want to travel to see the Heat play more than most other teams. Heat fans show up and travel well, which is not something every fan base can claim. It's actually incredible that a young franchise has such a devoted following. Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets fans aren't exactly known for packing games in Denver.
Heat fans are everywhere. They're filling the home arena and your team's place. Thank us.
Heat fans leave games early.
To be honest, we deserve this one. For the rest of time, Heat fans will have a reputation for leaving games early to beat traffic, all because maybe 500 fans — out of the 20,000 in the arena — left Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals before the biggest shot in NBA history happened. Since Ray Allen drained the infamous three to send Game 6 into overtime and prompt an eventual Game 7 that Miami won, there have been numerous times Heat fans have sat back and watched as other fan bases were shown on television filing out while their team was still clinging to a slim hope of victory.
Every fan base does it, and they are all equally terrible for it. Everyone, not just Heat fans, wants to beat traffic. The stupidity in this take and being reminded of it will never die because it was all caught on video and the moment was an all-timer. That's OK, though. Joke's on those people. Miami won that game, and most of the people who left saw the Heat clinch an NBA title two nights later. They probably didn't leave that game early.
Heat fans are fair-weather fans who didn't deserve LeBron or any other winner ever.
First of all, there have been studies that crowned Miami Heat fans the most loyal in the NBA. Yeah, wild. Second, there is no basis for those who claim Heat fans come around only when the team is winning. Heat fans, as noted above, packed the house before, during, and after the LeBron era and have consistently, especially in comparison to the other teams in town, come out to show support for rosters that didn't deserve it.
Most Heat fans remember what it was like to watch the team lose 50 to 60 games a year in the late '80s and early '90s. They lived through the years when the Heat was the hard-working underdog that surprised more talented teams. The Heat has been rewarded since 2003 with Dwyane Wade and the success that followed.
Make no mistake: There is no evidence that Heat fans are front-runner fans. You'll see that said a lot, though.
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Heat games are full of rich people who don't have enough passion to cheer for their team.
Maybe it's because other Americans save their pennies all year to visit Disney World, or maybe it's because they've seen too many episodes of Ballers, but the national perception of Miami Heat fans is that they're people who sit on their hands most of the game.
As with any NBA team, fans are divided by levels, like on the Titanic. You have your upper-level fans who paid the get-in-the-door price; then you have your lower-level, courtside-seat fans who are, for the most part, just there to be seen or to meet someone. There is a middle ground, of course, but those are the basics. Every city has this grouping, but at Heat games — like, say, Knicks games — it's more pronounced. The majority of Heat fans are into the game, cheer as passionately as any other fan base, and are more knowledgeable than most because their team has been in so many big games in relatively few seasons.
All in all, Heat fans are just as passionate as any fans, if not more so. Any other narrative isn't based in reality.