BY CHRIS GOMES
Miami sports, at one point, had a golden age.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh made up the ‘Big Three’ of South Beach, the legendary Miami Heat team that consistently won, and were considered a “super team” at the time. Although they weren’t able to accomplish a three-peat, the action of winning three championships in a row, they did in fact win one championship in 2006 with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, and later two championships in the ‘Big Three Era’ being 2012 and 2013 respectively.
However, since then, the Miami Heat have fallen off. The ‘Big Three Era’ ended in 2015, with a series of injuries to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, as well as LeBron James ultimately returning to his hometown of Cleveland, granting them a championship win in 2018 over the Golden State Warriors.
Following these injuries and departures, the Miami Heat experienced multiple mediocre seasons, often barely making or missing the playoffs, and were deemed a “middle of the pack” team. Unfortunately, this fact, until recent seasons, has remained true, as the Heat missed the playoffs in Dwyane Wade’s retirement year. It was deeply depressing to see Wade leave Miami without even being able to make the playoffs.
Since that horrific season, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and president of Basketball Operations Pat Riley have rejuvenated the troubled franchise. The team currently boasts the fourth seed in the eastern conference, in a rebuilding year, which is something that surpasses every expectation that was originally set.
Since that horrific season, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and president of Basketball Operations Pat Riley have rejuvenated the troubled franchise.
All-star small forward Jimmy Butler signed with the Miami Heat in the off-season as a free agent and has brought about great success for the Heat as a leader, helping to make the instant progression possible. In addition, electrifying performances from Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have brought the Heat to an underdog Eastern Conference Finals position.
They’ve become one of the few teams to twice beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, who currently hold the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a 53-9 record.
In the 2019-20 season, two Miami Heat players became all-stars, and played in the All-Star Game. Butler, the same free agent the Heat signed in the offseason, and Adebayo, the center and power forward that’s had a remarkable year making a run for the Most Improved Player award, were the Eastern Conference All-Stars picked by Giannis Antetekounmpo. Adebayo also won the Skills contest, giving the Heat two out of three wins at the All-Star Weekend.
Some, like sports analyst Stephen A. Smith, point to the Heat as a possible contender to go “as far as the Eastern Conference Finals.”
“I think they can go as far as the conference finals,” Smith said. “I think they have the ability to upset anybody.”
But with change within the coaching staff, or with an influx of talent through new players, the future for South Florida sports look bright, with a possible championship coming to South Beach within a couple of years.
The Florida Panthers have also had an underrated season, accomplishing some success, and currently hold fourth place in the Atlantic Division. However, they have been on somewhat of a losing streak.
The Miami Dolphins, as of last season, were one of the worst teams within the NFL. Luckily for them, and for fans, this grants them a relatively early pick within the NFL Draft, with many pointing to the Dolphins drafting Tua Tagovailoa from the University of Alabama, or possibly someone to help improve their offensive line, which is currently one of the worst in the league and is severely impairing their chances of winning.
As of late, South Florida teams have been horrible, barely clinching the playoffs, like in the Heat’s case, or being at the bottom of the league, like in the Dolphins’ case. But with change within the coaching staff, or with an influx of talent through new players, the future for South Florida sports look bright, with a possible championship coming to South Beach within a couple of years. Sports are a competition, though, and it looks like as South Florida improves, another possible contender does the same. It all hangs in the balance of time and competency.
Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald