Friday, June 22, 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder 106 at Miami Heat 121 (NBA Finals, Game 5) - June 21, 2012

When I first planned this trip last September, it was the Blue Jays visiting Miami's new ballpark that was the catalyst. I didn't expect the NBA to be playing this season due to the labour trouble that was looming at the time. so I didn't consider the possibility of an NBA playoff game. It really wasn't until Derrick Rose went down with an injury in the first round that I began to think that the Heat might go to the finals. When I checked the tentative finals schedule, I noticed that Game 5 would be on June 21, when I was scheduled to be in Palm Beach, and Game 6 would be on June 24, when I would be in Miami watching the Jays.

When the conference finals were set, I knew that game 5 would be in the east as both San Antonio and Oklahoma City had better records than Miami and Boston. I changed my plans and booked a hotel in Miami for the 21st, and then hoped for three things to happen:

1) At least one conference final went 6 or 7 games. If both finished in 4 or 5 games, the finals would be moved ahead two days and there would be no game in Miami when I got there.

2) Miami beat Boston. When they went down 3-2, it looked all but over.

3) The finals were not a sweep.

As you know, all three happened, so the next step was securing a ticket. I was on the TicketMaster site at noon the day after Miami tied the series at one and was fortunate to get a single standing room at the insane price of $155, including a $20 convenience fee from TicketMaster.

I arrived in Miami on game day and took MetroRail to the arena, getting there at 5 pm, four hours before tip off. Gates opened at 6:30, so I wandered around the arena for 90 minutes, talking to other fans who were looking for tickets and soaking up the atmosphere. There were none available at the box office, although some might have been released after the gates opened.

Around 6:20, I went to gate 5 to line up, along with 3 other people. That was it. I expected more fans with SRO tickets to show up to get a spot, which is why I had arrived so early. I was the first into the arena, shocking the usher who asked me "Are they already letting you guys in". I made my way to the standing room area and secured my spot. Turned out the standing room area was closer to the floor than many seats in the 300 and 400 level.

The two-and-a-half hours before game time passed quickly. I briefly went down to see the Heat practicing, including Chris Bosh demonstrating some serious intensity while working on his free throws.

The arena remained empty until about 8:30, when people started filling the seats down below.

The theme was White Hot Heat and a swag bag was given out to those of us in the nosebleeds. The best part was a pair of Heat sunglasses, which are completely useless but look cool.

Tip-off was just after 9 and the fans went into overdrive, chanting "Let's Go Heat!" or "De-Fense!" throughout the game. The Heat players certainly used the home court to their advantage.

I'm not going to recap the game other than to say that the NBA knows how to put on a show. The NHL finals are simply not that interesting, except for the fans of the teams involved. But the NBA relies on its stars and LeBron James put on a performance for the ages, achieving a triple-double and leading the Heat to a 121-106 victory and his first championship. If you think Kevin Durant is a better player than LBJ, watch this game again. Not even close.

After the game, I managed to run down the first level to see the trophy presentation and LeBron awarded the Finals MVP. He is the subject of a lot of hate in the sports world after jilting Cleveland, but I was happy to see him get his first ring; he is the best player on the planet and now people will stop the stupid "He's never won anything" argument.

Afterwards, there were thousands of people partying on the streets, most of whom were not at the game. It was a great crowd and things were kept under control; you never know these days when a riot might break out. I met up with Sharpy, who had flown in that evening and was sitting separately during the game. We took transit back to our hotel and celebrated until the early hours of the morning.

This was the third time witnessing a championship, after the 1995 Stanley Cup and the 2001 World Series. Just the Super Bowl left on the bucket list. See you in New York in 2014?




  1. Hey Sean

    Great re-cap. You should write for ESPN.


  2. Sean,
    Our Heat Shades are definitively cool and look great on you!
    Awesome that you received the limited edition White Hot Heat Fan Kit we made! All the goodies are collectors pieces! These stories are always rewarding to us. (A See Ya PR Production) ;)



  3. Good job guys, the Heat Fan Kit is one of my prized possessions.