The Miami Heat are the talk of the NBA's Orlando bubble. Not just on the court, where the team dominated the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but around the league and in the media, the Heat are known as the team that has best adapted to bubble life.
If the NBA bubble were a season of Big Brother, the Heat would undoubtedly win the show.
Playing great and having their shit together inside the bubble is working out great now, but for the Miami Heat, that success will pay dividends in the future. The organization has used the bubble experience to showcase Miami as the place free agents should want to be.
How have the Heat used the bubble to recruit a star of the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, or Donovan Mitchell? Quite a few ways.
Cool look inside the Heat room in the NBA’s Orlando bubble. Family pictures are set up of all the players and coaches. This is where the team holds meetings, eats together and just hangs out. (Video via @MiamiHEAT) pic.twitter.com/WmCLx859h4— Will Manso (@WillMansoWPLG) July 14, 2020
Family matters. Sometimes it's the little things. The Heat went out of their way to make players comfortable when they arrived in Orlando, even covering the walls with photos of the players' families to make them feel a little more at home. Word is, players for other teams have continually checked to see what the Heat will do next for their guys.
That won't be forgotten when players choose where to land in free agency or which teams are on their approved list when demanding a trade.
The Jimmy and Goran bromance continues postgame pic.twitter.com/TgwfTDZbrA— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) August 22, 2020
Come for the sunshine and no state income tax, stay for the friendships. One of the most fun parts about this Miami Heat team is that the players seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company, which has made the entire bubble experience more like a throwback to sleepaway basketball camp than a tedious inconvenience that delayed vacations to the Caribbean.
A player like the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal or Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell — both very obviously not in the most comfortable of homes — recognize that and envy it. Come to the Heat if you want to win, with people that don't suck.
Duncan Robinson and goran dragic lighting up the pacers*— ???????????????????? is depressed (@DipoWRLD) August 23, 2020
The pacers pic.twitter.com/NnZF8Oho2Z
We got shooters. Everyone knew the Miami Heat had shooters, but being forced to sit in your hotel room and watch them drain a plethora of three-pointers in opponents' faces is louder than seeing it in a boxscore. There isn't much else to do there. No kids to look after, no errands to run. Just watching the Heat shoot the crap out of the ball.
The Heat have been on fire from beyond the arc in Orlando. Everyone is being forced to watch each basket go through the net. Quite the showcase.
Spo is elite. Seriously. Top 3 coach in the NBA. Never gets credit because he’s a Riley protege and he got to coach the Big 3. Other teams don’t like to play the Heat because they know how well conditioned, prepared and smart the Heat are— David Lang (@Dukielang) August 22, 2020
Erik Spoelstra is getting a lot of love. If NBA stars weren't already aware that the Miami Heat have one of the best coaches in all of sports, they're getting an education on the matter now. Coach Spoelstra has managed to mix and match his lineups to perfection, even as the team started the bubble experience without starters Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn because they tested positive for COVID-19.
Having a competent coach with a history of championships is a huge selling point to free agents. The Heat are using the bubble to showcase theirs.
The Jimmy Butler example. If there's a team you want to join to maximize your talents, the Miami Heat is the best franchise to come to. But if it's a lack of drama you're looking for and teammates and coaches who let you be you, well, look no further than the season Jimmy Butler has had as proof that Miami is the place to shine.
A guy like Washington guard Bradley Beal has to be looking at Miami as the place where his 30-plus points per game would best fit in on the court. Off the court, it's quite obvious the Heat is the team that would give him the least amount of drama to deal with.
Unselfish veterans. Meyers Leonard can't love sitting on the bench in the playoffs. Goran Dragic couldn't have loved being benched for a rookie all season. But the Miami Heat figured out a way to make sure its veterans don't complain. Team goals are more important than individual ones.
The next star who comes to Miami won't care about his stats — he'll be coming to Miami to win and to play with teammates who sacrifice in order to do so. The Orlando bubble has proven once again that the Heat has those sort of guys in its locker room.
Reputation. The Heat has a reputation as one of the finest franchises in all of sports, but the NBA bubble has elevated one trait the team is known for: grittiness. It's never easy against the Heat, a team that's downright not fun to play.
Other players know this. They see it and play against it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
The Heat isn't afraid to make moves. Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, two players the Heat acquired in the pre-COVID Justise Winslow trade, play huge roles in the bubble version of the team. When the season started, the Heat wasn't anywhere near the team it is now, and it's because of the moves the Heat front office made.
Future Heat stars know the Heat will make moves, and smart ones. The team has proven as much.
Success. In the end, what matters more than winning? Money. The good news is that a superstar player like Giannis Antetokounmpo will have a maximum he can make, and he'll get it. Superstars want to come to a team that will hit the ground running in pursuit of a title, not a team like the New York Knicks that will have to find six other pieces just to transform themselves into a playoff contender.
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Miami has proven it is championship-ready. Any star who chooses to come to Miami can see the team is already damn good without them.
Bam Adebayo. Yeah, the Heat has Jimmy Butler, but Bam Adebayo is the draw. In Bam, the Heat has one of the league's brightest up-and-coming stars. He also plays center, which pairs nicely with the guards and forwards the Heat will end up pursuing.
Come to play with Jimmy Butler, stay for Bam Adebayo. Miami is an attractive option because of its barely legal-to-drink star.