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From Riley to Arison to players, a behind-the-scenes look inside winning Heat locker-room

This is what jubilation, what blissful bedlam, looks like, Heat-style:

### Shane Battier running through an AmericanAirlines Arena corridor shouting: “Where am I? Where am I? That was an out-of-body experience for two hours.”

### Pat Riley, hair marinating in champagne, offering up his best “Birdman! Birdman!” Shaquille O’Neal impression as Chris Andersen sprinted by.

### Dwyane Wade making a snow angel on the confetti-covered arena court, long after the game ended, and announcing to those who witnessed it: “Ten years, three championships! Ain’t no snow in Miami. So this is the only time you get to do this.”

Joy, euphoria and relief washed over every corner of the Heat locker-room early Friday morning. There was James holding the championship trophy tightly and shouting: “This is what it’s all about. Larry O’Brien!”

There was Wade leading his teammates in one more chant: “To the last minute, to the last second, to the last man, we fight!”

And there were James, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and others dancing to the pulsating beats.

Amid the merriment, members of the Heat family stopped to reflect. Vignettes from the Happiest Place on Earth:

For Riley, there was as much relief as joy. Because, “I know what the story line would have been” if the Heat lost. “How many guys I would have had to trade. Riley’s too old. He’s senile and all that stuff.”

Riley knows this is the only team whose season is viewed as a failure without a championship. And that’s “absolutely” a burden.

 “It’s like a 60-pound boulder on your back,” the Heat’s president said. “We don’t have to worry about that anymore. To win back to back titles is an incredible feat. When you have a dream in your head, you better have one in your heart. You better believe in miracles.

“Because there was a miracle [Tuesday] night. That’s the bullet that we dodged to get to tonight. I was a little bit desperate, but I’m not any more.”

As he leaned against the wall outside the locker-room, Riley gazed into the future.

“I just want this thing to keep going,” he said. “I’m at an age right now (68) where I am ready to just fly off somewhere. But I’m not going to because the Good Lord has blessed me with a team that’s allowed me to grab onto its coattails for as long as they want to be together.

“This is just an incredible experience. I thought I was going to be gone in 2003, first time I stepped down as a manic depressive.” He said he’s “so grateful” that James, Wade and Chris Bosh “all said yes” to the idea of playing together.

And Riley offered a message to those who keep mentioning the Big Three signing party, when LeBron said, “Not one, not two, not three” championships.

“We make so much of what was said,” Riley said. “It’s all bull [expletive] now, because all it’s about now is what’s in front of us, not what’s behind us. I wish people would stop talking about that.

“He’s been to the Finals three years in a row, won two championships, two MVPs, and he definitely controlled [Game 7]. He’s gotten better over the last couple years. He’s genuine about his approach to the game. Sometimes, I stay at real arm’s distance from him because I’m too serious and too intense, and sometimes, he needs to be loose and ready to play.

“The biggest improvement in LeBron is he has taken a leadership role above and beyond anybody else. His performance and leadership and putting everything on his shoulders is second to none ever.”

And what about Wade coming through in Game 7?

“He said the other day he had one game in him,” Riley said. “We’re going to heal him up, get his knees healed up. He’s a great, great, great player, and judged rather harshly as a guy that’s played with an injury for two months. He came up big, big [Thursday] when it counted, and we expect him to come up big for the next six or seven years.”

Riley stayed centered throughout this playoff run by never deviating from his regimen.  “Every game, I never changed my routine. From right after the shoot-around, I would just sit in my office and look out the window until the game starts. I might do a couple things, read all your guys’ articles and stuff.

“But then I would take the same route with about two minutes to go [before] the game and I go down and sit in my seat and sit next to my wife. And I tell her: ‘Don’t talk to me. Make sure all of your friends know that I love them, but I will not talk to them, either, during the course of the game.’ That’s just my insanity.”    

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As his daughter sprayed him with champagne, owner Micky Arison spoke of this “incredible ride, an incredible rollercoaster. You go through the lowest low Tuesday when those yellow ropes come out. That was just agony. And to be here now. It seemed like it was so much harder [than last year]. But you forget last year, we were down 3-2 to Boston, it was pretty hard, too.”

Arison said he was “worried” since Sunday because the Heat won at Dallas in Game 6 to win the 2006 Finals and Dallas won at Miami in Game 6 to take the 2011 Finals.

“Having the road team win bothered me,… scared the living [expletive] out of me,” he said. “It wasn’t until a few seconds were left that I finally believed this was really going to happen.”

This journey, he said, “was an incredible run. The Spurs never got to the Finals two years in a row, never mind winning two years in a row. I have great respect for that franchise. For us to do something they haven’t been able to do says a lot about these guys.

“LeBron is just amazing. He made all those pull up shots [Thursday] that he wasn’t making all series. To be able to watch him every night for the past three years is a joy.”

And Wade? “A couple games Flash came back. That’s all we needed.”

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Bosh had scored in 741 games in a row until Thursday. Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

“I didn’t think I wasn’t going to score any points,” Bosh said, leaning against a soda machine outside the Heat’s locker-room. “I thought I was going to have a big offensive output.

“If you don’t score any points, nobody is going to remember that. They’re only going to remember [championship] No. 2.  Very sweet, even better than last year.

"It’s the longest year you could possibly have – we started before everybody [to go to China] and we went to Game 7. It was worth it. We have two of them. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Afterward, Bosh told Tim Duncan that if he wouldn’t have been there without him. Why?

Because “he was one of the guys I wanted to be growing up,” Bosh said. “I learned a lot just by watching him. He’s a champion. I can only hope to be a fraction of as good as he is.”

Duncan replied with a “thank you and congratulations.”

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Wade, sitting in ABC’s makeshift studio set, said the idea of wanting to play with other stars crystallized as he watched Kobe Bryant win a title in 2010. “That’s what started it.”

He called this the most challenging playoffs of his career. Standing outside the locker-room afterward, he relayed a conversation with his knees.

“I told my knees – Listen, I will treat you good this summer,” Wade said. “Just give me one more.”

They did.

“I have a chance to rest now. This is the sweetest [championship] by far because of everything we’ve been through, everything I’ve been through.”

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As Ray Allen’s father massaged his back, Allen stood in the locker-room, relishing The Shot That Changed Everything – his game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 6.

“This celebration I wouldn’t be part of if that shot hadn’t gone in,” he said. “I do have to label it as probably the biggest shot I’ve ever hit in my life. You talk about the magnitude of the situation. That’s something I’ll think about, other people will talk about, forever. That moment was a defining moment for us.”

Allen’s father cracked, “He should have come here two years ago.”

Allen didn’t hear that, but said: “This is what I came down here for. It was a great leap of faith when I left [Boston]. I knew I needed a change at the time. These guys welcomed me with open arms.    

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A starter for most of the season, Haslem didn’t play in Game 6 and logged just 1:37 in Game 7. “It was my turn to sacrifice,” he said, just before the Belgian female TV reporter asked if she could kiss him on the cheek. (Haslem said OK.)

“This is the ultimate definition of a team – different rounds, different guys have to sacrifice, have to make plays. Every round, we did whatever it took. [If we hadn’t won], I would have been heartbroken…. I’m happy for Dwyane – that’s my brother. I told him tonight, ‘Put some hot sauce on [that knee]. We need you.’”

 

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After draining six three-pointers, Battier stuck his head in the arena’s flagship lounge afterward to grab a Bud Light and was greeted with resounding applause. He said a lot of people counted him out, but he knew he had a game like this in him.

“I believe in basketball gods. I felt they owed me big time.”

Meanwhile, his buddy, Miller, stood at his locker, holding his sneakers above his head triumphantly as if they were mini trophies.

Transforming from spare part in the regular season to starter in the final four games of The Finals “was awesome,” he said. “That’s our team. That’s what makes it fun.”

And LeBron? “The guy’s ridiculous. If you’ve got cable, you know. He works harder than anybody, which for a four-time MVP speaks volumes.”

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Elsewhere: Chalmers cavorted down an arena hall, his young son Zachiah close behind. “Miami, we just getting started!” he said. Chalmers will forever be associated with his late heroics in Kansas’ national championship win against Memphis, but “this might have surpassed that. The dream, as a little kid, of being in this moment, and I’ve been here twice. Two out of three ain’t bad.”…

Andersen sprinted into the locker-room and served up one of the lines of the night: “I need security. Champ coming through!”…

Rashard Lewis played sparingly in postseason, but that didn’t remotely dampen his mood. “I’m still on a team that won a championship. Finally got a chance to experience it after playing 14 years in the league. Winning one cures everything.”         

Comments

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Reality Bites

Good summary Barry. What a great team this is all around. Now let's get ready to do it all over again next season.
Go Heat!!

Georgia Cane

Congrats Heat!!!!! Now I have to make room in my man cave for one more Championship.

rboud

All hail to the Heat. They overcame a ton of pressure to prevail. I admit I lost faith and thought the Spurs would win Game 7. It's great to be wrong.

YHWH

From Last Post,

Tracy McGrady = Hall Of Farmer.

taheati

Thanx for the insights & coverage all year. Buzz is da Bomb. #wontstopreadingnow

GEORGE kRAFT

Great series --Thanks for the ride of a lifetime.

Jeff D

Great tidbits of information as usual. Thanks Barry!

SOLDY

No depths....tell us how much better all those 3 stars that ufelons have lined up for 2013 are...

Posted by: sidcane | June 22, 2013 at 07:50 AM


ok do[]_[]che, I'll answer that for []_[], b[]_[]t []_[] ain't gonna like it. B[]_[]t the FACTS are the FACTS ... The Gators, FSU and the other maybe Top 10-12 Programs may take 1-2 Two Stars and 1-2 low 3 Star (that were either unranked or 2 stars that get elevated to 3 stars because a good school offered hoping to make idiot fans like []_[] buy into their website for info to feel better about themselves and their pathetic teams. THAT IS WHY []_[] HAVE SO MANY barely 3-Stars THAT NO TOP SCHOOL WANTS) projects per recruiting year in a 23-28 man class for a total of 3-4 per year. Thus 12-15 over a 4 year cycle... []_[] have taken, and it's a fact, 9-10 a year for a total of 40+ developemental projects per 4 year cycle... And that is the exact reason why the GATORS are 90-28 over the last 10 SEASONS and []_[] are 66-46 and have NO Q[]_[]ALITY DEPTHS...

COMPRENDE ???

j[]_[]st like all typical Cane fans, []_[] co[]_[]nt []_[]r chickens before the eggs are even laid. What []_[] contin[]_[]ally fail to realize, and have the last 10 years, is that commitments mean crap until they sign in Feb. []_[] know how many in just the last 5 years committed to []_[] only to decommit and roost easlewhere? That number is well over 25-35. And that's why []_[] have to offer all these nobody "bodies" just to fill out []_[]r Classes. Sure []_[] get a few nice players, but []_[] back them []_[]p with total scr[]_[]bs that ZERO Top teams even consider to offer to the tune of 8-10 each year, every year. That, []_[] d[]_[]mb dolts, is the recruiting form[]_[]la for diaster depth wise and exactly why []_[] are 66-46 the last decade.

So enjoy []_[] 12 so far commits that average 3.08 Stars per man. The Gators will sit pat, AND NOT OFFER GARBAGE in a panic with their 10 commits that average 3.58 Stars per man... And after the Season when all the 80-90 or so of the Top 150 kids that still have yet to commit do... []_[] will see that they will decide between the Top 10-15 Programs that will split them all with 5-6 each while []_[] will be left with NONE. Only to repeat []_[] sorry formula cycle offering more JUCO scr[]_[]bs in March-June. And excatly why GREAT Top-10 teams sit and redshirt their Fresh n Sophs until they are 3rd. Sophs before they even see the field and then become starters as Redshirt Juniors. []_[] ? []_[]r Freshman play right away year after year because []_[] have no choice to develope them because []_[]r []_[]perclassmen that were brought in as []_[]nranked-2Star- low 3 Stars with no top offers STINK and can't compete at a high level. Hence the reason why []_[] say year after year, "WE ARE YOUNG" and an EXC[]_[]se without even being able to identify why []_[] say it year after year...

[]_[] can't fix what's broken []_[]ntil []_[] identify it. And []_[] are so blind beca[]_[]se Goldy feeds []_[] all this M_ierda how 8-10 kids in []_[]r yearly recruiting classes "are such great kids with such great []_[]pside" that Top Program simply wouldn't even sniff as walkons.

It's []_[] that blindly keeps the faith with those fallicies. []_[] keep it []_[]p tho[]_[]gh. It's so entertaining how []_[] Cl[]_[]cks are riding high in Summer only to be shot down in December year after year after year. It's the new []_[] thang. Pathetic and sad but am[]_[]sing nonetheless.

"TR[]_[]ST IN THE TIE" riiiieeet ?

My Dear, Silly, Misinformed, Del[]_[]sional, o[]_[]t of touch Cane Fans, all []_[] keep doing recruiting wise is shoveling the same horsesheet over and over year after year never reaching rich soil trying in vail to convince []_[]rselfs that all these sr[]_[]bs that are coming in mass numbers into []_[]r Program will all turn out like Ed Reed by some miricle. When was []_[]r last 2-Star the last 8-10 years that did so h[]_[]h? Top talent doesn't slip through the cracks anymore with the advancement of technology and social media. It ain't gonna happen. But Goldy will contin[]_[]e to do his best to keep you ALL mystified by his continuing to reach into his hat and p[]_[]lling out sk[]_[]nk recruits...


Hola ARTY... Tooo easy... 70 more days my Compadre !!!

ND

No comment about coach Spo? I get it, Pat Riley put this team together but coach Spo was in charge of keeping it together--to let the players play within the system. He diagrams the play, calls time-out, makes subs. They played against a great team with a great coach. On the spurs side, I keep hearing about Coach Pop and little to nothing about their owner or team president. While on the Heat, the credit goes to Riley and the big three. It was a tough 7-game series. You can have a big three out there but you still need a smart mind to win the championship. Hats off to you, coach Spo!

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