If there's one thing Miami is known for in the sports world, it's being an event town. Sometimes that event is one night.
Down on Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Heat games have suddenly become events again.
The Heat is must-see TV again. That's what the numbers show. And if the soaring ticket prices for the lone home game Dwyane Wade has played since his return to the Heat are any indication, the days of scoring a $10 ticket including taxes are definitely over.
#HEATTVRatings: Welcome home Dwyane. Friday night’s #HEAT vs. Bucks game was the most watched game of the season (6.9 HH; 115,722 homes) & most streamed HEAT game ever on FOX Sports GO. It was most watched HEAT game on our network in almost two years (2/24/16).— FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) February 12, 2018
On the year, @MiamiHEAT TV viewership is up +9% year over year through the same number of games, while streaming is up +82%.— FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) February 12, 2018
The #HEATLive pre-and-postgame shows were the highest rated of the season.— FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) February 12, 2018
Before Wade returned to the Heat in a stunning trade-deadline deal that cost the Heat only a heavily protected 2024 second-round pick, the games were losing their luster. After all, the team was on a losing streak, and the must-watch aspect seemed to be gone. The Heat lacked that "it" factor that draws in the average fan.
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The return of the greatest athlete to ever play sports in South Florida has changed all of that for at least the immediate future. And if all goes well, it'll continue for months to come.
Wade — whether or not you believe he's washed up — is a star in Miami. People pay the price of admission to watch him play basketball. They tune in to see if he's having a good or bad night. He moves the needle. Hassan Whiteside doesn't do that. Goran Dragic doesn't do that. Nobody on the Heat is on that level.
Wade is a walking, talking, basketball-playing event. Heat fans watched Cleveland Cavaliers games simply to see how Wade was faring. They scoffed at the way he was treated in Chicago. They care about him. And now he's back in their town, playing for their team.
Regardless of wins and losses, Wade has already given Heat fans a gift this season: He's brought back a buzz only he is capable of bringing.