“We have a chance in our building to make something great happen, and that’s all you can ask,” Ray Allen had said before the game. “Legacies are tied to the moment, to this game.”
Then Allen said something phrased a bit oddly, but accurate.
“Forever will remember this,” he said.
This was the biggest home game in South Florida professional sports history, and if it wasn’t, the company is select. No home game in the Heat’s 2006, 2011 or 2012 Finals was supercharged, as all-or-nothing like this one.
You’d mention Oct. 26, 1997, a Marlins World Series Game 7 win over Cleveland. You could mention any of the six AFC Championship Games the Dolphins have hosted with a Super Bowl berth at stake. But those were just about GETTING to the big game. At the college level you’d mention UM’s 1983 football national championship won in the Orange Bowl. This was as big as any of them.
No fans left early Thursday night, as they’d been criticized for doing late in the Game 6 comeback. This time, there was a championship coronation to see.
Heck, these fans would have stayed till breakfast.
Who wanted this night to end? This ride?
For Heat players and likely many fans, too, the hours that followed this game would be full of celebrating, or of up-all-night second guessing. As Wade said before the game, “I won’t get no sleep tonight one way or another.”
This was the night the Heat became the most accomplished franchise in South Florida sports history, the night that notion of Miami as a basketball town gained some mathematical backing.
The Heat’s third championship (2006, 2012, 2013) tops the Dolphins’ two Super Bowl wins (1972, 1973) and Marlins’ two World Series (1997, 2003).
The faded Dolphins are trying to be relevant again. The Marlins are surrounded by fan anger and disenchantment.
The Heat are reigning in every sense, with LeBron leading the parade.
He came in averaging 33.8 points in career Game 7’s, and 31.5 in elimination games. Both were all-time NBA bests, and all he did was top them both.
“All the sacrifices we made every single day, it’s about to pay off,” LeBron had told his teammates in a pregame speech.
It sounded like a promise. LeBron James made it come true.