Miami Heat “culture” isn’t just something the team invented as a marketing slogan during the 2016-17 team’s 30-11 run. Gary Payton, who won a championship with the Heat in 2006, discussed his experience with the culture during his stint with Miami.
Payton’s piece includes plenty of fun nuggets — like “Pat [Riley] had been recruiting me since ‘96,” which was one year after Riley had joined the Heat. Longtime Heat fans may remember that Riley compared Dwyane Wade to Payton just before Wade’s rookie season.
The Hall of Fame point guard reminisces about a time when Riley had the veteran 2006 players doing wind sprints and everyone enjoyed it. It was then when Payton said, “I bought IN.”
Of course, Payton mentions the moment in Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals when the Heat, down 0-2 in the series, faced a double-digit deficit to the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter. Riley called a timeout and motivated his team. “If you want to win — if you want to win a championship — then you bring your hearts, you bring your hard hats, and you bring them right now,” he said, according to Payton.
Payton says that the Heat won that game, but doesn’t mention that he hit a clutch shot with nine seconds left to give Miami the lead back.
He ends the piece talking to the 2019-20 Miami Heat team, knowing that everyone is counting them out down 3-1 in the NBA Finals. He says, “Y’all are still here — and y’all belong here. Next three games are for the Culture. They forgot about the Miami f— Heat.”