NBA Finals

Sights and sounds from the Miami Heat’s championship celebration

 

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

This is what jubilation, what blissful bedlam, looks like, Heat-style:

• Shane Battier running through an AmericanAirlines Arena corridor shouting: “Where am I? Where am I? That was an out-of-body experience for two hours.”

• Pat Riley, hair marinating in champagne, offering up his best “Birdman! Birdman!” Shaquille O’Neal impression as Chris Andersen sprinted by.

• Dwyane Wade making a snow angel on the confetti-covered arena court, long after the game ended, and announcing: “Ten years, three championships! Ain’t no snow in Miami. So this is the only time you get to do this.”

Joy, euphoria and relief washed over every corner of the Heat locker room early Friday morning. There was LeBron James holding the championship trophy tightly and shouting: “This is what it’s all about. Larry O’Brien!”

There was Wade leading his teammates in one more chant: “To the last minute, to the last second, to the last man, we fight!”

And there were James, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and others dancing to the pulsating beats.

Amid the merriment, members of the Heat family stopped to reflect. Vignettes from the Happiest Place on Earth:

The president’s approval

For Riley, there was as much relief as joy. Because, “I know what the story line would have been” if the Heat lost. “How many guys I would have had to trade. Riley’s too old. He’s senile and all that stuff.”

Riley — who has now won nine championship rings as a player, coach or executive — knows this is the only team whose season is viewed as a failure without a championship. And that’s “absolutely” a burden.

“It’s like a 60-pound boulder on your back,” the Heat’s president said. “We don’t have to worry about that anymore. To win back-to-back titles is an incredible feat. When you have a dream in your head, you better have one in your heart. You better believe in miracles.

“Because there was a miracle [Tuesday] night. That’s the bullet that we dodged to get to [Thursday night]. I was a little bit desperate, but I’m not anymore.”

As he leaned against the wall outside the locker room, Riley gazed into the future.

“I just want this thing to keep going,” he said. “I’m at an age right now [68] where I am ready to just fly off somewhere. But I’m not going to because the Good Lord has blessed me with a team that’s allowed me to grab on to its coattails for as long as they want to be together.

“This is just an incredible experience. I thought I was going to be gone in 2003, first time I stepped down as a manic depressive.” He said he’s “so grateful” that James, Wade and Chris Bosh “all said yes” to the idea of playing together.

And Riley offered a message to those who keep mentioning the Big 3 signing party, when LeBron said, “Not two, not three, not four” championships.

“We make so much of what was said,” Riley said. “It’s all bull [expletive] now, because all it’s about now is what’s in front of us, not what’s behind us. I wish people would stop talking about that.

“He’s been to the Finals three years in a row, won two championships, two MVPs, and he definitely controlled [Game 7]. He’s gotten better over the last couple years. Sometimes, I stay at real arm’s distance from him because I’m too serious and too intense, and sometimes, he needs to be loose and ready to play.

“The biggest improvement in LeBron is he has taken a leadership role above and beyond anybody else. His performance and leadership and putting everything on his shoulders is second to none ever.”

And what about Wade coming through in Game 7?

“He said the other day he had one game in him,” Riley said. “We’re going to get his knees healed up. He’s a great, great, great player, and judged rather harshly as a guy that’s played with an injury for two months. He came up big, big [Thursday] when it counted, and we expect him to come up big for the next six or seven years.”

Here’s how Riley stayed centered throughout this playoff run: “Every game, I never changed my routine. From right after the shootaround, I would just sit in my office and look out the window until the game starts. I might do a couple things, read all your [newspaper] articles and stuff.

“But then I would take the same route with about two minutes to go [before] the game and I go down and sit in my seat and sit next to my wife. And I tell her: ‘Don’t talk to me. Make sure all of your friends know that I love them, but I will not talk to them, either, during the course of the game.’ That’s just my insanity.”

Arison’s ‘incredible ride’

As his daughter sprayed him with champagne, owner Micky Arison spoke of this “incredible ride, an incredible roller coaster. You go through the lowest low Tuesday when those yellow ropes come out. That was just agony. And to be here now — it seemed like it was so much harder [than last year]. But you forget last year, we were down 3-2 to Boston.”

Arison said he was “worried” since Sunday because the Heat won at Dallas in Game 6 to win the 2006 championship and Dallas won at Miami in Game 6 to come away with the 2011 crown.

“Having the road team win bothered me … scared the living [expletive] out of me,” he said. “It wasn’t until a few seconds were left that I finally believed this was really going to happen.”

This journey, he said, “was an incredible run. The Spurs never got to the Finals two years in a row, never mind winning two years in a row. I have great respect for that franchise. For us to do something they haven’t been able to do says a lot about these guys.

“LeBron is just amazing. He made all those pull-up shots [Thursday] that he wasn’t making all series. To be able to watch him every night for the past three years is a joy.”

And Wade? “A couple games, Flash came back. That’s all we needed.”

Bosh thankful — for Duncan

Bosh had scored in 741 consecutive games until Thursday. Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

“I didn’t think I wasn’t going to score any points,” Bosh said, leaning against a soda machine outside the Heat’s locker room. “I thought I was going to have a big offensive output.

“If you don’t score any points, nobody is going to remember that. They’re only going to remember [championship] No. 2. Very sweet, even better than last year. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Afterward, Bosh told Tim Duncan that Bosh wouldn’t have been there without him. Why?

Because “he was one of the guys I wanted to be growing up,” Bosh said. “I learned a lot just by watching him. He’s a champion. I can only hope to be a fraction of as good as he is.”

Duncan replied with a “thank you and congratulations.”

The knee whisperer

Wade, sitting in ABC’s makeshift studio set, said the idea of wanting to play with other stars crystallized as he watched Kobe Bryant win a title in 2010. “That’s what started it.”

He called this the most challenging playoffs of his career. Standing outside the locker room afterward, he relayed a conversation with his knees.

“I told my knees, ‘Listen, I will treat you good this summer,’ ” Wade said. “ ‘Just give me one more.’ ”

They did.

“I have a chance to rest now. This is the sweetest [championship] by far because of everything we’ve been through, everything I’ve been through.”

Shot through the heart

As Ray Allen’s father massaged his back, Allen stood in the locker room, relishing The Shot That Changed Everything — his three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter that tied Game 6.

“This celebration I wouldn’t be part of if that shot hadn’t gone in,” he said. “I do have to label it as probably the biggest shot I’ve ever hit in my life. You talk about the magnitude of the situation. That’s something I’ll think about, other people will talk about, forever.”

Allen’s father cracked, “He should have come here two years ago.”

Allen didn’t hear that, but said: “This is what I came down here for. It was a great leap of faith when I left [Boston]. I knew I needed a change at the time. These guys welcomed me with open arms.”

‘Whatever it took’

A starter for most of the season, Haslem didn’t play in Game 6 and logged just 1 minute 37 seconds in Game 7. “It was my turn to sacrifice,” he said, just before a female TV reporter from Belgium asked if she could kiss him on the cheek. (Haslem said OK.)

“This is the ultimate definition of a team — different rounds, different guys have to sacrifice. Every round, we did whatever it took. [If we hadn’t won], I would have been heartbroken. … I’m happy for Dwyane — that’s my brother. I told him [Thursday night], ‘Put some hot sauce on [that knee]. We need you.’ ”

This Bud Light’s for you

After draining six three-pointers, Battier stuck his head in the arena’s flagship lounge afterward to grab a Bud Light and was greeted with resounding applause. He said a lot of people counted him out, but he knew he had a game like this in him.

“I believe in basketball gods,” he said. “I felt they owed me big time.”

Meanwhile, his buddy, Mike Miller, stood at his locker, holding his sneakers above his head triumphantly as if they were mini trophies.

Transforming from spare part in the regular season to starter in the final four games of the NBA Finals “was awesome,” he said. “That’s our team. That’s what makes it fun.”

And LeBron? “The guy’s ridiculous. If you’ve got cable, you know. He works harder than anybody, which for a four-time MVP speaks volumes.”

Memories for champions

• Chalmers cavorted down an arena hall, his young son Zachiah close behind. “Miami, we just getting started!” he said. Chalmers will forever be associated with his late heroics in Kansas’ national-championship win against Memphis, but “this might have surpassed that. A little kid from Alaska, driven by playing in the NBA. To be here and have two NBA championships is a dream come true for me.”

• Rashard Lewis played sparingly in the postseason but said: “I’m still on a team that won a championship. Finally got a chance to experience it after playing 14 years in the league. Winning one cures everything.”

• Andersen sprinted into the locker room and served up one of the lines of the night: “I need security. Champ coming through!”

Read more Miami Heat stories from the Miami Herald

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

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