Chris Bosh did a courtside interview with Heat radio voice Mike Inglis moments after Miami beat the host Celtics on Thursday to force a seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals.
After talking about the game, Bosh made a personal plea for Miami fans to come out to AmericanAirlines Arena and make the building shake. “We need you,” Bosh said.
Fans from other markets — like Boston, for instance — might have scoffed at such a request. It’s Game 7, after all. Win, you know, or go home.
Bosh, it should be noted, has only been in South Florida a short time. He may not be fully aware that in South Florida, you don’t need to beg fans to come out for a big game. They’ll be there. A Wednesday night game against the Atlanta Hawks? OK, you may need to make an impassioned plea for people to head to the arena. South Florida, if nothing else, loves big events.
Saturday night’s game against the Celtics most definitely was.
“I’ve had trouble getting rid of tickets in the past but people have been calling me since Thursday night to see if they could come with me to this,” Kris Anderson, of Hollywood, said before the game as he sipped on a mixed drink.
“This is going to be a great night, even by our standards down here. We have had a lot of big events whether it’s the Hurricanes or Marlins or Dolphins. Even the Panthers were better this year. People just love to be seen at these games. There’s nothing like it.”
One person who loves the atmosphere at Heat games is Reverend Abraham J. Thomas. Dressed in a white suit complete with a white silk cape, fedora and cane, Thomas walked about the concourse greeting fans and arena workers with fist bumps or a bear hug.
Thomas carried a small boom box blasting the song Happy from the group Brick and had a red sign hanging around his neck that says ‘We Believe’ on it; that same phrase is sewn onto his cape. He was hoping to see the Heat extend its season for a number of reasons.
“I come to all the games to spread some cheer,” said Thomas, the assistant pastor at Mount Herman AME church in Miami Gardens. “This crowd tonight is going to be off the chain. People here in Miami love this team and the ones who can come to the game are lucky. There are a lot of people who can’t afford it or are elderly and can’t leave their homes. But they are watching. This is a big day for all of us.”
Boston guard Keyon Dooling said before Saturday’s game that he expected a good crowd but one that wouldn’t be as intense as in places like Philadelphia or Boston. Dooling, a native of Fort Lauderdale, formerly played for the Heat.
“It will be cool. But crazy is meant for Boston. It’s a jungle, crazy,” said Dooling, a Dillard High graduate. “The fans here are crazy after a great, spectacular play but they’re not crazy. I would imagine the tension will be thick. And this is a great place to play. It’s wonderful, the city of Miami is great. And our franchises are historically great. That makes for a great Game 7. I love playing in front of my family, my friends, people who saw me grow up. It’s unreal for me to look into the crowd and see familiar faces.”
If the Celtics were expecting a laid-back atmosphere on Saturday, they didn’t get it. The crowd was on its feet before the game started as the clock counted down to tip-off and went crazy when LeBron James smacked Rajon Rondo’s shot out of bounds late in the opening quarter.
Boston did have a few of its fans in the crowd, however, as a large number of the early comers wore Celtic green. Boston fans were fully aware of what Saturday’s game meant. A win and the historic franchise would have gotten to chase another banner for the Garden. With the loss, the Celtics vaunted trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen now might be broken up.
Emmanuel St. Germain drove down from Delray Beach for the game wearing a kelly green T-shirt that read ‘I Hate LeBron!’ St. Germain said he didn’t think fans would give him too much grief for it.
“The shirt is all in fun. I’m looking forward to having a good time,” he said. “This is Game 7, you have to come out and see it. We could be going to the Finals or it could be the end of the Big Three. We’ll see what happens.”