“You are them, and they are you,” as club president Pat Riley told fans Monday.
After the main parade the Heat staged a separate arena celebration open only to season-ticket holders, an event carefully choreographed to a soundtrack of ear-numbing club music. And that was fine. Not quite two years earlier, after the Big 3 first came together, a similar celebration was held, but that was all conjecture. This was proof.
But it was out on the street, where one needed no season ticket for special access, where Miami’s love of the Heat shone through best.
“It was all for a moment like this,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of two year’s tribulation leading to Monday.
The parade was not without missteps. Some fans were disappointed it moved too quickly, taking just under an hour instead of the 90 minutes planned. Others complained there was no culminating presentation on the arena steps as there had been in ’06.
Such complaints seemed overwhelmed, though, by the larger joy you saw on fans’ faces, the spontaneous outbreaks of “Let’s go Heat!” chants, the hundreds of signs.
Cheers nearing bedlam decibels swelled at the sight of LeBron, or D-Wade, or Chris Bosh, or new hero Mike Miller, of the seven three-point shots in the clinching game. Appreciative applause greeted Micky Arison and Pat Riley, owner and architect, as they shared the upper deck of a bus along with their families.
Shane Battier came along banging a wooden spoon on the bottom of a cooking pot, celebrating Hialeah-style.
And here through the merry din came the float carrying Spoelstra, ballcap backward, leaning over to pound the top window of his double-decker bus. The coach had family in town. In front of him stood his 5 1/2-year old nephew, grinning and waving. (“I think he thought the parade was for him!” Spo would say later.)
Asked to describe what he was seeing and hearing atop that bus, Spoelstra said, “It will ring in your ears for so many days and years. It was surreal to see.”
This was the view and sound from the mountaintop, where the Heat — and, yes, their fans — now reside.
“It feels right. Like this is how it’s supposed to be,” said Bosh.
Everything feels set right now.
LeBron rises in NBA history, moving toward a place on the highest echelon of the sport, the place of the Michaels and Magics.
Trappings of a championship are immediate. Oprah Winfrey flew in to interview the Big 3 on Monday. James is featured Tuesday night on David Letterman.
A budding dynasty is implied, with the prerequisite first title now accomplished.
No matter what happens from here, though — no matter how many more parades could be in store — none will be quite like Monday’s.
Scorn and booing and laughter had come at us in unending waves for two years.
Monday none of it mattered. It ceased to be heard.
Monday, the only sound Miami could hear was its own joy.