After exactly two years, one month, and one week, the Miami Heat's stubborn refusal to talk to Riptide about anything for any period of time has finally come to an end. Well, sort of.
The cruel and arbitrary lockout really began 15 years ago when we wrote this article about Heat owner Micky Arison. Then this interview with Dwayne Wade in July of 2009 didn't help things (but did make for a good story about his disastrous business ventures).
Yet, while trying to solve a mysterious flood at a Brickell Key highrise, we finally spoke to the big man himself. No, not LeBron. Or D-Wade. Or even Chris Bosh. The guy with the voice so low it shook our testes over the phone was none other than Miami Heat back-up back-up center Juwan Howard.
When the Heat lost Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Magic City transformed from home-court advantage to home-court hell. Feeling jilted and disappointed, Miamians joined the rest of the nation in blasting the basketball stars we had hung our hopes on.
We snickered at Chris Bosh for collapsing on the way to the locker room. We blamed Dwyane Wade for devoting more time to his wardrobe than his shot selection. And we lambasted LeBron James for not levitating and smiting Dirk Nowitski in his ridiculous German face.
Not even the Heat's ancient bench-warmers are immune from our scorn. Take 38-year-old Howard. The former Fab Fiver was little more than a sports cliché last season: the wise veteran who sauntered onto the court for ten minutes per game, fouled somebody, made a layup, and then took a seat. He'd fit right in at a Riptide pick-up game.
Yet a nasty rumor was floating around Howard's Three Tequesta Point condo building on Brickell Key. Luxury apartments on the top ten floors of the high-rise had been badly damaged by mysterious water seepage. Wallpaper was ruined. Justin Bieber posters were warped. The horror! The horror!
Somehow, Howard was the one getting blamed. The story made sense: He owns the penthouse, and the apartments immediately below his seemed unoccupied. Who else could have caused the torrential flood?
A score of scenarios sprung to mind. Had Howard thrown an impromptu foam party to lift his beleaguered team's spirits? Had he begun Jetlev-ing his way to work to avoid traffic? Or perhaps there's a tsunami every time the mammoth man takes a bath?
So we called him to find out.
"There was no flood in my apartment," he boomed at us.
Howard wasn't lying. According to building management, a sprinkler had broken in the unit below his. Because the owner was traveling, water had drained down the building for days.
But there was so much more to talk about. Was Howard still hurting from the NBA Finals loss? Would he return for another season? Better yet, would he join a Riptide pick-up game?
"I'm a very private person," Howard said. "Please don't ever call again." Click.
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Juwan, we won't hate you. You're our first Miami Heat interview since we ambushed D-Wade on camera. Even Banana Man wouldn't talk to us.
You at least said "please."