Miami Heat fans draw criticism for leaving Game 6 early


Many fans were denied re-entry after leaving in the final minute of regulation Tuesday night. The early exit revived questions about Heat fans’ loyalty.

Miami Heat fans celebrate after  winning Game 6 in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at the in Miami, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Miami Heat fans celebrate after winning Game 6 in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at the in Miami, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Javier Galeano / AP
WEB VOTE Do Heat fans who left early in Game 6 deserve to be criticized?

Stewart Arroyo realized he had made a mistake when he heard a roar coming from AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night.

He was crossing the street toward Bayside, along with his three nephews and dozens of other fans who left in the final minute of regulation in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. They assumed the Miami Heat’s season was over.

“Someone looked at his smartphone and said, ‘They just tied it up!’ ” Arroyo, 45, said.

Moments later, fans rushed back to the gates and tried to convince security to let them in. But they were denied, and had to watch one of the most epic victories in sports history on the monitors in front of the Heat store.

Photos and videos circulating online showed throngs of fans pouring out of AmericanAirlines Arena in the final minute when the Heat trailed by five points.

A sullen silence had engulfed the arena, some fans said. And few expected the Heat to force overtime and eventually beat the San Antonio Spurs 103-100 to force Game 7.

The early walkout has led to derision from Heat haters across the nation and soul searching among Heat fans, who have gained a reputation for being fickle.


Channel 10 reporter Victor Oquendo, who witnessed the commotion of fans trying to re-enter as he set up for a live shot outside the arena, tweeted Tuesday night:

“I was born and raised in Miami. I used to hate the national perspective against Heat fans but I can’t fight it anymore. Now I’m watching horrible, drunk, quitting fans desperately trying to get back in. This is madness.” His tweets were picked up by national media and was trending in Chicago.

Danielle Calixto, who was sitting in the lower level behind the basket, said she watched overtime surrounded by dozens of empty seats. She said she was disappointed with the lack of support but not completely surprised because she had witnessed early dismissals during other games this postseason.

“You don’t see that in other NBA stadiums,” she said. “They need to become better Heat fans.”

Arroyo, who sat in the second level behind the Spurs bench, said he left early because he didn’t want to endure the pain of watching the Spurs’ celebration and trophy ceremony like he experienced in 2011 when the Dallas Mavericks clinched the championship at the Arena, also in Game 6.

“I was screaming my head off the whole game,” Arroyo said. “To watch TV at home and criticize somebody for leaving early is wrong. It doesn’t mean you are not a good fan.”


Arroyo disagrees with the team’s no re-entry policy that prevented him from watching overtime.

“I have no idea why it’s implemented,” he said. “What happens if you have forgotten something and need to come back?”

Lorrie-Ann Diaz, the Heat’s director of marketing and communications, said the policy is an industry standard. Signs indicating “No Re-entry” are posted on doors throughout the arena.

Off-duty police officers working near the arena responded when they saw the commotion at the gates, but fans who tried to re-enter did not engage into any kind of altercation, City of Miami police officer Kenia Reyes said.

When the game ended, Arroyo and his nephews celebrated with thousands of ecstatic Heat fans exiting the arena. He said he felt somewhat guilty because his nephews missed the overtime because of his decision.

“I was very happy but mad at myself for leaving,” he said.

Miami Herald Reporter Rohan Nadkarni and Public Insight Analyst Stefania Ferro contributed to this report.

Read more Miami Heat stories from the Miami Herald

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2014, file photo, then-Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng looks on against the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers' 117-109 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver. Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has been disciplined by CEO Steve Koonin for making racially charged comments about Luol Deng when the team pursued the free agent this year. Ferry apologized Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, for “repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources” about Deng.

    Miami Heat

    More comments besmirching new Miami Heat forward Luol Deng

    Days after it was revealed that Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry made racially charged comments about new Heat forward Luol Deng before Deng became a free agent this summer, additional comments made by Ferry about Deng came to light Thursday.

FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2011, file photo, Atlanta Hawks co-owners Michael Gearon Jr., left, and Bruce Levenson talk prior to the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has been disciplined by CEO Steve Koonin for making racially charged comments about Luol Deng when the team pursued the free agent this year. The team did not provide any details of the discipline.

    Hawks discipline GM Ferry for racist comments

    The Atlanta Hawks are sticking with general manager Danny Ferry even though the team's new majority owner wants him fired for racially charged comments about Luol Deng.

Shaquille O'Neal stopped by Doral City Hall Wednesday to say hello to the city council before sitting down with the police department. O’neal applied to be a reserve officer and is undergoing a background check.


    Shaq wants to attack crime in Doral

    Former Miami Heat star Shaquille O’Neal applied to be a reserve police officer for the city of Doral on Wednesday.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category