Welcome to the refreshed Hot Hot Hoops! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules here]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Brandon Di Perno
I became a Miami Heat fan late in 2004 when I was in fifth grade. That’s not to say I wasn’t a basketball fan before that, I played constantly and deeply enjoyed the 90s NBA documentaries that were available on VHS. I was also a religious reader of SLAM magazine, which is how I (as a Canadian) was able to learn more about the NBA’s other teams while the Raptors went through a bitter divorce with Vince Carter. I was on a family vacation when I picked up SLAM #84, I was excited by the Allen Iverson cover and the posters within, and with a long drive to Florida ahead I figured it would help pass the time. There was an article on Dwyane Wade within and how he would mesh with the new Heat acquisition, Shaquille O’Neal. I was fascinated, not just because Shaq was joining the team, but because Dwyane Wade wore the same number I did for my basketball team (as a 5th grader that was a big deal).
I attended my first NBA basketball game on January 1st 2005, as the 25-7 Heat took on the Charlotte Bobcats. I stood with my dad and sisters in the standing room section. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before and DWade was relentless, as he scored 26 points. I remember his play style being absolutely mesmerizing. From that night on I was a Miami Heat fan, proudly wearing the iron-on Lamar Odom jersey I bought at TJ Maxx around Montreal before I received a Wade jersey for my birthday. I still remember playing games at basketball camp in the Wade Converse shoes, and hating the Detroit Pistons with a passion as the Heat struggled to beat them in the Conference Finals.
I’ve always had a unshaken loyalty to the Heat organization and would often engage heated debates about Wade vs Kobe with my classmates. I’ve seen many different Heat seasons as a fan, some bad and some great, but three championships later I’m glad this is the team I chose to support during the cold Canadian winter months so many years ago.
I was born in Miami, and so Heat nation was all I knew. When I was young, my dad and I would watch games together. Man, did we hate the Knicks back in the day! I really became a die hard fan when Tim Hardaway was running the show. I lived through the Eddie Jones years and loved the Wade years. Then I had to convince people I wasn't bandwagon during the LeBron years. I love the Heat, and I always will.
Moving to Miami in the same year as Pat Riley did in 1995 was a new chapter in my life and an opportunity to re-connect with my passion for the NBA after some time away from the United States. I remember going to the old Miami Arena to see my favorite players in action, such as when Magic Johnson played his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers as a power forward, and my appreciation for the hard work ethic only grew season after season. I remember where I was when I found out Keith Askins had retired, that Shaq was acquired in a blockbuster trade, or when I first heard that Alonzo Mourning was going to make a dramatic comeback with the Heat after initially being sidelined with his kidney disease.
With all the incredible ups and downs for the franchise year after year, it’s been an unforgettable roller coaster ride. There’s never been a dull moment since I joined Hot Hot Hoops and then shortly afterwards getting credentialed for the 2009-10 season and I believe the future is bright for both HHH and the Heat.
I was born in Illinois but I grew up in South Florida. My family moved here in early 90's from Illinois when I was 10. Yes, I was a Chicago Bulls fan before but only by "birth" and only for the first 3-peat. Once in Florida, I switched from the Bulls, Bears and Cubs to the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Still, the 2003 NLCS was a very confusing time for me.
But, back to the Heat. We didn't have cable TV back then but I did get to watch the Heat on channel 33. At the time, the announcers were Eric Reid and Dr. Jack Ramsay. I credit those two with introducing me to the finer points of the sport of basketball and the NBA. Listening to Dr. Jack and Eric talk about the game once or twice a week during the season taught me a lot about the sport and made me a life long Heat fan.
While the Heat teams of that era were not very classy on the court (see the Knicks playoff series) the announcers were truly classy in the booth. They always showed the highest respect for the opposing players and coaches with only a subtle hint of homerism. After getting League Pass and listening to other local broadcasts around the country, I found out just how unique the Heat announcers are in that regard and just how lucky I was to grow up listening to Dr. Jack cover my team. The current Sun Sports duo of Tony Fiorentino and Reid continue to display that level of professionalism while covering Heat games. I know they are creating new lifer Heat fans every day locally and anywhere their broadcasts are seen.
I became a Heat fan before the 2004-05 season, when I was 11 years old. The Heat’s trade for Shaq brought a lot of attention to the team, and I was starting to grow into my basketball fandom then. I followed the team with fervor, and it didn’t hurt that Miami won 59 games that year and the NBA championship the next. Seeing Miami win added a bit of buoyancy to my adolescent years. Being a Heat fan became part of my identity.
Looking back on it now, I think it’s a little strange that I became a Heat fan because of Shaq, and yet I harshly criticized him for the way he left Miami. I still don’t think the Heat should have retired his jersey.
I became a fan of the Miami Heat on the day back in 1988 when they defeated the Charlotte Hornets 103-102. I'll always remember Rory Sparrow's 19 foot fadeaway jumper as time expired. My father and I and the other 15,000 or so in attendance all threw their flyswatters in the air when the bucket sank. At least it seemed like 15,000 flyswatters. I'm sure some people hung onto their flyswatters....but I tell you it was worth it. Nothing the Heat has done since has made me love them any less than I did back then.
Now it’s your turn. Have your say and good luck with the contest!
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