The Miami Heat parade snaked through downtown on Monday as close to 400,000 people came out to brave sweltering temperatures and honor their back-to-back NBA champions.
The victory parade kicked off in a lively spirit with LeBron James smoking a cigar as he stood atop a double-decker bus and center Chris Andersen flapping his arms to keep in line with his “Birdman” nickname. Though the parade kicked off in the morning, the heat index in downtown Miami was already in the mid-90s.
For LeBron James, the Miami Heat parade capped off what was one of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history. He joined Michael Jordan as the only players win back-to-back NBA MVP and Finals MVP, and despite the San Antonio Spurs devising schemes specifically to stop him James averaged more than 25 points in the Finals.
The performance was capped off by a 37-point, 13-rebound effort in Game 7.
“It’s the ultimate,” James told Sun Sports, the Heat broadcast partner, in an interview during the parade. “It’s the ultimate. This is what I came down here, to be able to have a parade at the end of the year. I’m extremely blessed, man. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
It once appeared as if the parade would never happen. The Heat trailed the Spurs by 10 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6, and were still down five with less than 30 seconds to play. But then LeBron James hit a huge three-pointer, the Spurs missed one of two free throws, and the Heat caught a lucky break as Chris Bosh corralled an offensive rebound to Ray Allen behind the three-point arc, who tied the game.
During the Miami Heat parade, the players looked happy to put the grueling series behind them and finally celebrate. They sprayed each other and fans with super-soaker water guns as music from bands blasted around them.
“All the fans that we’re seeing here is who supported us throughout the whole season, man,” James said. “This is the least we could do is ride through the city and show our appreciation.”
But James, Dwyane Wade, and the rest of the team will be soon back to work trying to bring a third Miami Heat parade in 2014.