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The Heat's toughest season comes to an end

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Heat lifers survive the toughest season together, and the roller coaster keeps going.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not a roller coaster kind of girl. I learned that after one regretful night at the Dade County Youth Fair back in 1995. As a Miami Heat fan, though, no one asks. If you're in the nation, you're on the coaster. You're buckled in and you can't get out.

For the past 4 years that was actually fun! There were rivalries, win streaks, seedings - stress of the "funnest" kind. In fact, I pitied the fools in other parts of the country who were not sports fans, who cared nothing about the NBA. "They have no idea how exciting life can be!" I thought. "The Heat are playing the Lakers on Christmas Day and you're going hiking?!?"

Whipping and whirling around, screaming and laughing, I had no idea I was on the kiddie coaster. There were dips and curves, but nothing like the plummet that was to come. Blindsided, the plummet came hard and fast.

"He left.
Back to... them?
We were just like... college?
But I thought we had something special."
My heart hurt.

Now, looking back on this season, I realize we survived arguably one of the toughest seasons in Miami Heat history.  Throughout this season we had little hopeful peaks of wins followed by sinking dips of losses and injuries.  To go from playing in the NBA Finals to hoping for a lottery pick, that's the nausea I've tried to avoid since that night at The Fair.

What I love, though, is my ride or die crew. Heat Nation, Heat Twitter, Heat Lifers, the Sun Sports crew, the players and coaching staff, everyone who comes together and gets through the ride - together.

And in the end, it's not even the buckle that keeps us on the ride. It's something more.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  
We are stronger. And we'll be back.
Screaming and cheering.
Together.

Now who's your pick in the post-season?