Miami • Heat fans swarmed from downtown bars and rushed cheering and screaming into the streets late Thursday after their team won its second straight NBA championship.
As the final seconds of the Heat’s 95-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs wound down, fans by the thousands streamed into the area surrounding the AmericanAirlines Arena to exchange high-fives and hugs, blow whistles and simply scream. Some climbed atop street signs and a railroad crossing.
Unlike last year’s final game blowout of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which ended a 4-1 Heat series win, the year’s decisive Game 7 was tight until the end, adding to the excitement when a late run by Miami finally put the Spurs away. Because the over-the-air, cable and satellite television signals weren’t quite synced, cheers would go up from one bar when the Heat hit a shot, followed a second or two later by cheers from another.
“It’s euphoria in the city of Miami,” said Alex Vailon, a 20-year-old Miami resident. “How many teams have took two in a row?”
Several, actually, but Miami fans were not interested in history lessons as their team celebrated its third NBA title in the last eight seasons. As with the Heat’s two previous titles, officials said the city’s celebration was generally peaceful — police chased away a few celebrants who were jumping on top of limousines that were leaving the arena.
A few miles away in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, thousands gathered in the streets to bang pots and pans — a neighborhood tradition — hold up Heat signs and chant “Let’s Go Heat!” People in the cars driving by rolled down their windows, stuck their bodies out and waved their hands and also banged their pots and pans.
“This is what we Latin people do,” said Carlos Gonzalez, 33, who was holding up a sign with the image of LeBron James’ head. “There’s no words to explain this. We’re going to party till the sun rises.”
The final practices of the season were shootaround sessions for both teams on Thursday morning, and both produced some of the best one-liners of the entire series.
From Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, asked about his legacy: “Food and wine. It’s just a job.”
And from Heat forward Chris Bosh, about the fact that Thursday is the final day before summer vacation starts: “It’s like the last day of school. Except you have to do work.”