Soon after the Heat clinched its second NBA title in as many years and third in team history, local TV stations ran a public service announcement asking Miami fans to “celebrate with dignity.”
There’s no doubt fans took the first part of the message to heart.
The Heat’s win gave the City of Miami yet another reason to party, and by all accounts the celebration will continue through the team’s parade Monday morning.
The festivities began as the game clock ticked to zero at AmericanAirlines Arena, and those in attendance began hugging strangers and crying tears of joy.
“I made so many rapid movements and screamed so many obscenities that every part of my body hurt when I got home,” said Harrison Cytryn, a law student and South Florida native.
Cytryn sat in the 400 level with who he referred to as “the real fans.”
“It’s a three-hour time frame of my life that will never be forgotten,” he said. “I don’t think it was just validation for the Heat, but the fans as well.”
As people left their seats and headed toward the exits, fans continued to call for “Let’s go Heat” chants and screamed at one another. One passionate man walking down the stairs implored everyone else to “get off [their] phones and get loud!”
The celebration spilled out onto the streets of downtown Miami, where the festivities ranged from pure joy to mildly criminal.
After the game, Biscayne Boulevard was congested with limousines, expensive sports cars and thousands of fans all dressed in white. People filling the streets made noise with anything at their disposal, and fans also brought back the pots and pans for impromptu drum beats.
People in their cars ignored the traffic and embraced the celebration, often opening their windows, interacting with strangers on the street and blaring their car horns. One pair of fans even sat on top of their car moving east on Eighth Street, banging on pots and yelling at those walking around them.
Brian Saenz was caught up in the postgame chaos. Saenz attended eight playoff games during the championship run and described the moments after Game 7 as “awesome.”
“I went with my little sister, and we celebrated around the arena for about an hour after the game,” Saenz said. “Police and civilians were cheering. Everyone there was each other’s best friend. I must have high-fived 20 strangers.”
Saenz was even fortunate enough to encounter a celebrity, bumping into hip-hop star Drake outside the arena. Drake was shown sitting courtside during the game and was also caught on camera trying to get into the Heat locker room celebration.
“He was a really nice guy,” Saenz said. “He took a picture with my sister, which was awesome.”
Of course, no post-championship celebration would be complete without the nightclubs scattered throughout Miami.
Last year, the Heat famously partied as a team at Liv, a night club at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach.
After Thursday night’s game, NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were seen at Story, another nightclub owned in part by the Fontainebleau, partying with the aforementioned Drake.
“It’s an honor that guests and athletes want to come to our nightclubs,” said Scott Flexman, vice president of sales and marketing at the Fontainebleau. “I think it’s because we are so representative of Miami. Our clubs are absolutely packed with fans after an event like Game 7.”
As for the actual celebrating itself, that too is representative of Miami.
“We expect the partying to last through the weekend,” Flexman said.