When the Indiana Pacers' starting line-up took the podium after defeating the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, it was a stark reminder that Indiana is the exact opposite of Miami. T-shirts and sweatpants? Really, boys? We might squawk about Dwyane Wade's floral jacket, his polka-dot capri suit and LeBron James' avian sweater, but we have such respect for their fashion knowledge, we secretly wonder if they know something we don't. Even the baby of the bunch, Norris Cole, knows how to dress for the podium in Miami. But in the Midwest, it's just different.
I went to college in the Midwest and as a Miami native, I cried for the first semester. There are fields and fields of corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see and at night it gets really dark. Dirty factories, smoke stacks and silos are everywhere. Little kids ride around scouting out cool combines and Walmart is a good day. Women dress for comfort and have never heard the expression, "Flats are for quitters." But after a semester (or two) I came to love the simplicity of it all. If they have to get up early, they actually go to bed early. The Midwest is not impressed by appearances. It's the heartland, the land of love. It's wholesome and values truly run deep.
This is exactly what we saw at the podium that night. Pacers players came up together to take collective credit for their victory. Pacers fans don't care what their stars wear. These are people who show up to games on time and stay to the final buzzer. The exact opposite of Miami.
But talking badly about Miami is like someone talking smack about your mama. It's fine for me to talk about my mama, but don't you be talking ‘bout my mama like that. Lower level HEAT fans show up a little late and we hate it but we love it because it's so Miami to be late! People don't wear the free t-shirt hanging over the arena seats and we hate it but we love the variety of stylish white outfits! It's so Miami! Women wear 4-inch heels to a basketball game and we hate it because get real, it's a sporting event, but we love it because it's so Miami! Fans leave a little early and we hate it but we love it because we just know they're going to the AA Arena's velvet roped Hyde Lounge! And clubs are so Miami!
Truth be told, Will Smith got it all right in his 90's hit song about Miami. "Cash in your dough and let's flow to this fashion show" and "$100,000 cars everybody's got ‘em." You're hard pressed not to witness the equivalent of an impromptu exotic car show when driving downtown or around Miami Beach. But Miami is not Hollywood. Miami is just, Miami. The real glitter and glamour comes from the confidence of knowing who you are.
"Ladies half dressed, fully equipped?" Yep. And players fully dressed, fully equipped.
"Bienvenidos a Miami." Let's go!