Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Over the last 48 hours, Miami Heat fans have been through a roller coaster of emotions that often hit South Florida sports fans.
After Game 5’s deflating loss the Boston Celtics, the sky was falling on the Miami Heat and everything needed to be considered. This included trading Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, firing Erik Spoelstra, challenging Pat Riley, or amnestying Mike Miller.
Even CBSMiami.com got in on the action with a “what could happen” if the Heat lost Game 6.
Then, LeBron James put the Heat on his shoulders and powered the team to a victory in game 6 over the Celtics bringing the series back here for a pivotal Game 7. Suddenly for many Heat fans, all was right with the world and nothing needed to change.
It’s a familiar refrain that happens in many sports towns, but has earned Miami and South Florida as a reputation of a fair weather sports fan area. When the Florida Panthers were bad, the seats couldn’t be given away. When they made their playoff run, the arena was sold out.
Even the longtime stalwart of pro sports in Miami, the Dolphins, couldn’t manage to keep filling the stands at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins repeatedly had to partner with local businesses last year to keep the games on local television by buying the unsold seats at the stadium.
The South Florida sports fan has every reason to be a fair weather fan. There’s plenty to do in South Florida outside of sports and the local teams have struggled to keep a winning product on the field for long stretches.
The Heat won a title in 2006, but quickly declined until Pat Riley put the Big Three together in the summer of 2010. But even that only has two more years with the players guaranteed to be under contract with the Heat, which Miami fans are quick to point out.
The Marlins won two championships in their franchise’s young life, but after the last championship the team was dismantled. The team toiled in misery until this year when money was finally injected into the roster to help put together a solid team for the brand new Marlins Park.
Even with the revamped lineup and stadium, the Marlins still rank 16th in the league in average attendance thus far in 2012.
And then there is the Miami Dolphins. For years the Dolphins could be guaranteed of keeping fans coming back for more. But the team hasn’t won a championship in 40 years, and more than a decade of disrepair took its toll on fans.
Fair weather fans can be found in every city that has a sports team of any level. When the team is great, everyone goes to every game and watches every game on television. If the team is struggling, the decals, bumper stickers, and flags suddenly disappear.
The Heat have brought some of the criticism upon themselves after the Big Three set the bar at winning multiple NBA championships when they were first introduced. Fans expect a return on the promise and thus far, they’ve been left with nothing to celebrate.
As the Heat prepare for Game 7, the AmericanAirlines Arena will be rocking with 20,000 screaming, die-hard Heat fans trying to will their team to victory. How many of them remain loyal Heat fans if the team comes up short is yet to be determined.