Miami Heat fans in the Cayman Islands had a great weekend celebrating their side retaining the NBA title after a dramatic series that concluded with a 95-88 victory over San Antonio Spurs in Game 7.
Heat faithful saw the Spurs mere seconds away from clinching the championship on Tuesday night, before Miami fought back to win in overtime and force one final contest on Thursday.
With the series tied at 3-3, LeBron James scored 37 points on Thursday to earn Miami their third title in franchise history. James earned “Most Valuable Player” for the second consecutive season.
Courtside tickets at the American Airlines Arena were selling in Miami for as much as $30,000, and the match lived up to expectation.
One lucky Heat fan from the Cayman Islands, who was in the arena, was Michael Wheaton. “It was an absolutely fantastic event,” he said. “I was expecting the crowd to be 10 to 20 per cent Spurs fans, but it was 99 per cent Heat supporters.
“Heat asked their supporters before the game to wear white and the whole stadium was dressed in white. The atmosphere was great. Everybody cared about every point.”
Wheaton said he was proud of the fact that he had a better seat than Justin Bieber. After the win, celebrations around the stadium were carnival-like. “People were hanging off lamp-posts and holding up their copies of the Miami Herald that already had on their front page: ‘Heat Repeat!’.
Sports bars around Grand Cayman saw mainly Heat fans buzzing after the victory. Staff at Margaritaville could not contain themselves.
Mark Gaus is another Cayman resident and a lifelong Heat fan. He said: “Before the series started, I called that the Heat would win in six games.
“After the first game, a loss at home, I knew it was going to be a difficult series.
“Going into this series, I knew who and what we were up against, we were up against a dynasty in the Spurs.
“Even when watching the game last night you have to be a little surprised when your team wins a championship, especially back to back, even when LeBron James is on your team.”
Gaus was aware of the speculation before Game 7 that LeBron chokes and Tim Duncan always wins a Finals with Spurs.
“Well, the exact opposite happened,” Gaus said. “LeBron, being the greatest player on the planet, will always be the most criticised.
“LeBron is clutch! He was clutch when he hit the jumper putting the Heat up by four points with less than a minute left to seal the deal and win the Finals.
“LeBron is clutch in Game 7s, just look at the history. As for Duncan’s overall Finals’ performance, if the Spurs had won he would have been the Finals MVP.
“People should look more at players’ overall performance rather than a few unlucky plays.
“Duncan played great and in Game 6 he had 30 points in the first half, the second half he did not score as much.
“His performance for Game 6 was excellent, but since they lost and he was not an offensive threat in the second half then people may unfairly criticise him.
“I also think his two attempted misses at lay-ups with less than a minute left, which would have tied Game 7, people may say he choked there as well.”
Gaus watched the first half at his house in South Sound then, at halftime, he went to a friend’s place to join fellow Heat fans. “Everyone was happy when they won, but I was the most excited.”
Gaus is certain that the Heat can do a three-peat. “The real question of whether the Heat can three-peat is who can stop them,” he said.
“I do not foresee any team in the 2013-14 season being able to stop them. I cannot tell if they will be able to win four in a row the following year because I don’t know what other teams or the Heat’s lineup will look like.
“Now, as for trades the Heat may make, I would strongly recommend they keep the core of this unit intact.
“Their roster is near perfect and they would be fine with no changes. This first year with Ray Allen proved critical as he hit the game-tying shot to tie the score 95-95 in Game 6, which forced an overtime and Miami then won that game.
“The only pick-up I could see necessary would be getting a true big man. If not, Chris Bosh really needs to step up. Scoring zero points in Game 7 is not stepping up.
“With that said, he is very important in many aspects of their offense. I do believe Miami are in the early stages of a great dynasty and LeBron is going to only get better.”