Four years and a few weeks ago all Miami wanted was the return of Dwyane Wade.Heat mascot Burnie was placed atop the sign at the American Airlines Arena and refused to come down.
The county commission voted to temporarily rename the county Miami-Wade. All we wanted was Wade, another solid player, and enough supporting players to give us another title.
Talk of LeBron joining up was fun, but no one gave it much serious thought throughout the preceding season and early parts of free agency. Then something weird started happening. Odd rumors emerged that he could be joining up with Wade and the newly acquired Bosh in Miami, but they seemed like nothing more than a curiosity until the final 24 hours before his decision. And then it happened. He announced he'd be taking his talents to South Beach.
What followed was a wild four years of ups and downs. We got two championships, and four thrilling rides to the Finals. Heat fans were also put under microscope like no fan base in history. We didn't deserve this. We were a football town. Despite a pretty respectable history of attendance, all of the sudden we were all bandwagoners, even those of us who lived here and had never rooted for another team.
And now that LeBron has left, curious eyes will still be trained on us to see how we react. Let's not give them fodder by pulling a Cleveland-level meltdown. After all, we suddenly have a lot of cap space to rebuild with, the second-longest tenured head coach in the league, Pat Riley as GM, and a dedicated non-Comic Sans letter-writing owner in Micky Arison. All hope is not lost.
Here's a quick guide for how to channel your feelings today:
1. Do Not Burn LeBron's Jersey
I WANNA HEAR WHAT THE FANS IN THE 305 GOTTA SAY BOUT THIS ONE .... pic.twitter.com/OeTbJuZJI9
— Mike Epps (@TheRealMikeEpps) July 11, 2014
Unlike Cleveland, LeBron actually brought us two championships and brought this city together like few things can in the process. Besides, those things could be worth some money some day. If you really, really need to get some stress out with flames, maybe burn Bosh's jersey, privately and safely in your back yard, and don't put it on Instagram. Just make sure he's actually leaving first.
2. Remember the Heat Is a Solid Organization That Remains Attractive to Superstars and Building Championship Teams Around Them
Riley and Arison built a championship team around Dwyane Wade in 2006 before Cleveland could do it for LeBron. They then brought in LeBron James and gave him his first two titles. Hell, they even made it to the conference finals once with Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway before getting eliminated by Michael Jordan's Bulls.
The quality front office, the attractive surrounding city, and the fact that Florida has no state personal income tax will continue to make the Heat a very attractive destination for top-level talent. It may not happen immediately this off season, but trust that it will happen again.
3. Keep Going to Heat Games and Supporting the Team
We're actually not that worried about this one. Remember the 2007-08 season when Shaq was long gone, Wade was hobbled with injuries, and the team went on to compile a league-worst 15-67 record? Funny thing about that, the team still remained in the top ten in attendance, with a dip of less than 500 per game from their championship season two years before. Let's do that again.
4. Be as Nice as You Can to Cleveland
An interesting part of Miami history is that a lot of our city founders are actually from Cleveland. Julia Tuttle, Henry Flagler, and William and Mary Brickell all came here from Cleveland. Yes, Miami is in large part the city it is because Clevelanders got sick of living in Cleveland, and it was only fitting that LeBron James continued that great tradition.
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Yes, we all know and are quick to point out that Miami is just head-and-shoulders above Cleveland on so many fronts. Those poor people don't have much going on and haven't won a championship in anything since the '60s. The last time they seriously came close, the Florida Marlins, of all teams, snatched away a World Series from the Cleveland Indians in extra inning during Game 7 in 1997. Then we got what could possibly be the best playing years of LeBron's life. In the grande scheme of things, it's practically karmic justice that James returns. Let's let them have something.
5. No Comic Sans
There's some nice Miami Vice logo-inspired fonts online though.