Crafting a competitive team in the NBA is tough. Crafting a competitive team in the NBA, who actually like one another is even tougher. The Heat have succeeded on these two fronts and it’s paying dividends on and off the floor.
Heat Culture is a real thing. In his years with the Lakers and the Knicks, Pat Riley worked to create something unique. He created a code and philosophy that his teams would embody. He introduced it in his time in LA, reworked it in New York and perfected it in Miami. Let’s face it, when LeBron left for Cleveland he brought back with him remnant’s of what made the Big Three teams great. Justise Winslow put it best when he described Heat Culture saying:
“The Heat culture is really about being the most prepared team, the hardest working team, the most physical team and the most in shape team.”
This is evident on the floor, but what makes this team so special is what they do in their off time. On Sunday, Heat co-captain Udonis Haslem treated the team to luxury seating at the Miami Dolphins’ game. It was something UD had planned in the preseason, but looked to be a great team bonding event.
Over the weekend is was revealed that James Johnson and Goran Dragic would be joining Udonis Haslem in the captain’s chair. It was a special moment for both Dragic and Johnson, but Ira Winderman put it best explaining Johnson’s emotional reaction:
“When James Johnson saw a floor to ceiling image of himself in the hallway leading to the Miami Heat locker room, along with one of a clench-fisted Udonis Haslem inspiring his team and Goran Dragic lifting Hassan Whiteside after a game-winning shot, he teared up.”
Johnson commented on his new captainship saying:
“It means the world to me that these guys voted for me to lead them, for them to follow me. I have great respect for them. Being the captain on this team don’t mean that I’m always saying what to do and everything I say is right. I also follow their lead, too. And it think that plays a big part in it.”
There’s a reason the Heat front office worked so hard to keep this team together. They’re special. This Heat team is made differently, and maybe that’s why they’re so damn likeable. Or maybe it’s because they wear T-Shirts with each other’s faces on them. I’m not entirely sure.