As part of SB Nation's theme day, I've been asked to share my favorite live game experience with the Miami Heat. However, being a season ticket holder for nearly a decade I find it difficult to choose just one particular moment. So, I'll break the rules just a tad bit to share my overall favorite moments as a Heat fan, or even better a Heat Lifer.
My first Heat game at the Miami Arena
I credit my uncle and late grandfather for introducing me to the Miami Heat. Like many kids, I had two working parents and needed a place to stay after school. For me, that place was my grandparent's house. I'd often find myself watching games with my uncle and grandfather as I waited for my parents to pick me up in the evening. Slowly, I started to pick up on the rules of the game and started to follow it more intently.
One day, my uncle surprised my brother and I with Heat tickets. We were actually going to see a game live! I'll never forget my first ride on the Metrorail and sitting in the upper level seats of the Heat's former home, the Miami Arena. While I don't recall specifics of the game itself, I remember witnessing this larger-than-life event and knew right then that I was hooked.
The first few years as a season ticket holder
Since my first visit to the Miami Arena I always kept tabs on the team. I'd followed them on TV as much as I could and would go to as many games as possible, this time at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
As soon as I was able, I bought my own season tickets. There was no way I was missing another home game. My seats were in the first row of the 400 level at the Triple-A, and I took my uncle to my very first Heat game as a season ticket holder. It was only right to take the person who introduced me to the Heat and helped teach me the rules of the game.
Unfortunately, my grandfather was often too ill to attend the games live in person. However, we made sure to bring him whatever souvenirs we could snatch and would watch as many games together on TV when the team was on the road.
Throughout the years I eventually worked my way down from the 400 level to the 300 level, then to the 100 level so I've had just about every vantage point in the arena.
Now that I've settled into my section at the arena I've made plenty of friends and created plenty of memories with other fans, most of whom are fellow season ticket holders. Spending at least six months out of the year with these people and on an extended playoff run close to nine months they become very much part of your extended family. I know about their lives outside of the Heat games and keep in touch during the offseason.
My parents' Heat playoff experiences
Growing up in Jamaican-Chinese household, my parents typically never followed American sports. They followed sports like cricket and soccer (or football as they call it). However, as my love for the Heat grew they started to pay more attention to the NBA and follow the team more closely.
I'll never forget bringing my mother to her very first playoff game. It happened to be Game 1 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals versus the Indiana Pacers on Mother's Day.
Not only did we enjoy a great game despite the scare of Chris Bosh going down due to an abdominal injury, but we were invited to the post game interview sitting three rows from the podium where Spo, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James spoke to the media. It will likely remain my most unique Mother's Day gift to her and certainly a memorable one.
That same year, the Heat faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA Finals and yet again I had the opportunity to share a special day with one of my parents. The first home game of that series for Miami took place on Father's Day so it was a no-brainer to take my dad. Father's Day and the NBA Finals, who could beat that?
While there was no post-game interview invite, the Heat beat OKC to take the series lead. Again, another one for the books.
Nowadays, my parents follow the Heat as they would their soccer (or football) teams if not more. So I'd like to think I successfully recruited two tried and true Heat fans.
Introducing the Heat to the next generation
Whether it be my nieces, nephews, or my friend's kids, one of my favorite things to do with my tickets is to share them with the next generation of Heat fan. It's pretty special to be in a position to be able to give the same experience to the youth in my life that my uncle once gave to my brother and me.
Most of the time I know they don't understand what's happening on the court but the look on their faces when they see Dwyane Wade or even Bernie is worth the cost of giving up my tickets for a night so that their parents can take them to a game.
While I have plenty of in-game experiences that are quite memorable to me, nothing is more memorable or meaningful than being able to share the love of the game and in particular the Miami Heat with those closest to me. Sure, Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals would have been an easy one to write about but my experience as a Heat fan and my memories go beyond just one single game or moment.
To me, my entire experience as a fan of this team transcends way beyond the basketball court. It's more than just going to watch a basketball game. I've met several great fans through the years, many who are now close friends. I also, have so much to talk about with my 84 year old grandmother as we dissect games, win or lose.
As you can tell, the Heat is way more than just a team to me and to those around me as it brings us a great sense of camaraderie and very much a part of our lifestyle. To share just one particular experience simply just wouldn't do this story any justice, and I hope you've enjoyed some parts of my journey as a Heat Lifer.
Have any memorable experiences of your own? Feel free to share in the comments below.