Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was nine months in the making, but shortly before 1:30 p.m., the Miami Heat’s championship celebration inside the AmericanAirlines Arena kicked off.
After introducing the coaching staffs, including Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, who has been to the playoffs every year he’s coached, and the team management; the familiar sounds of the song “Seven Nation Army” cranked up and the Heat players began to dance behind a curtain.
All of the players were introduced, culminating with LeBron James coming out to the legions of adoring Heat fans. Coach Spoesltra was one of the first people to talk to the crowd and described the two finals’ series as the “toughest competition, most competitive two series we have played in.”
Slideshow: Miami Heat Championship Parade
Spoelstra then said if it wasn’t for the fans the victories in the two series wouldn’t have been possible.
“We feel like Miami parties better than any city in the world. But it took nine months of increbile sacrifice by everyone in our organization,” Spoelstra said.
Despite his youthful appearance, Spoelstra is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the NBA. He’s coached the Heat to five straight playoff appearances, three straight NBA Finals appearances, and now back-to-back champions.
Spo’s success isn’t much of a shock given the history of his mentor, Heat president Pat Riley. The legendary executive has won championships as a player, assistant coach, head coach, and now back-to-back as team executive.
“It really is about respect,” Riley said. “This is what players ultimately play for. You don’t merely want to be considered the best of the best at what you do. Their names are going to be respected and honored.”
The Heat then welcomed the NBA’s greatest three-point shooter in NBA history to the stage to talk about what’s now being described as “The Shot.” Allen’s three-pointer with 5.2 seconds to go in Game 6 not only tied the game, but also gave the team a chance to win a championship.
“I thought about it, but no disrespect, and then the next day, we got ready for a shootaround for Game 7 and we wouldn’t be in this moment if LeBron didn’t hit a three; I hit a three; and CB doesn’t get that rebounds,” Allen said. “After Game 7, that was the biggest shot I’ve ever hit in my career.”
Still, Allen doesn’t consider his shot the best shot in the game.
“This is the greatest collection of shooters I’ve ever been a part of my life,” Allen said. “The biggest shot, was Mike Miller, when he lost his shoe. That was amazing.”
Allen also said the team made him feel at home as soon as he walked into the locker room. He mentioned the team’s now infamous “Harlem Shake” video as one of the most fun things that the team did all year long.
One of the most popular members of the Heat wasn’t even on the roster when the season began. Chris “The Birdman” Andersen helped fortify the Heat’s front line and gave the team a much-needed infusion of energy in the middle of the season when he was signed.
“I never imagined being in this spot in January when I was sitting at home debating whether I was going to play or not. Everywhere where I was going they were rooting me on. It’s amazing,” Andersen said Monday. “I love a big challenge. When everyone counted me out, I made it a point to prove them wrong.”
Andersen may have had the line of the day at the AAA when he answered the question of why he thinks the city of Miami and the Heat community has embraced him so much.
“Maybe cause I’m a crazy-ass white boy,” Andersen said while laughing.
Then it was time for the big stars of the team and the first one on the stage was the man who has become Mr. Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade. The legendary shooting guard has won three championships in seven years with the team and is likely a first ballot of Hall of Famer without playing another game.
Slideshow: Inside The AAA Heat Celebration
But Wade has plenty left and described how it was difficult to put into words how special this championship is this year.
“This one is special because I know the category puts me in,” Wade said. “I know how hard it was to get to this point. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs to get here. It’s just phenomenal man.”
Wade himself dealt with a plethora of issues all season long from custody problems to major issues with his knees in the playoffs. Wade jokingly said he had a talk with his knees to give him one more game in the Finals and then he’d give them a summer off.
“I’ve got a great support system from my family to my teammates. I just have a great support system,” Wade said. “We are brothers. We spend nine and half months together. We get tired of each other. Me and ‘Bron were about to fight in Game 6 and nobody saw that. It’s special to come together for one common goal and reach that goal twice. It doesn’t work if everyone is not selfless.”
Wade then described how he feels about his fellow Big Three members, Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
“CB is my neighbor. We had the same agent coming and I’ve known him for 10 years. He’s Chris Bosh and no one else,” Wade said. “That’s what I love about him. Yknow, LeBron James is the best beeping player on the planet. We get to see it every day. The thing I like most about LeBron is that he’s one of the best teammate you can have. He deals with a lot of stuff we can’t understand.”
Speaking of Bosh, when it was his turn to take the microphone, he spent more time thanking the fans than anything. He also spoke of being willing to do anything that it took to get to the ultimate goal of a championship.
“Thank you Miami for everything you do from the top to everyone down here on the floor. Thank you guys,” Bosh said. “I’m just a guy on this team playing his part. You know everyone has a part to play. Coming into this I learned more about a team than I did before.”
Bosh has had to arguably give up more of his game to help the Heat get to where they wanted to be than almost anyone else on the squad. But, he was willing to completely change his game and his defense helped keep the Heat on the championship track.
The ceremony’s build-up culminated with the greatest player in the world, LeBron, taking center stage for the fans to shower him with adoration, which the entire crowd at the AmericanAirlines Arena did once again.
LeBron described the championship pursuit as a “war” on every level and that the team felt it.
“The main thing is the main thing, it’s championships,” LeBron said. “These fans. You guys were unbelievable once again. Like I said man, I ain’t got no worries, we ain’t got no worries.”
Once the Heat wrapped up Monday’s celebration, the focus immediately turns to next season and the pursuit of a Heat Three-Peat. If the Heat is to complete the three-peat, it will take each and every player taking their game to a new level once again.
In addition, the franchise will have to start planning for next July when all of the Big Three members can opt-out of their current deal to become unrestricted free agents.