The Miami Heat are notorious for their bandwagon fans, who hopped on when LeBron joined the team and during four years of trips to the championship. The Heat’s fanbase most certainly did grow quite a bit in the years after 2010.
However, now that LeBron is making his way back to Cleveland and most likely taking half of Miami’s supporters with him, allegiances are being tested – on and off the court.
American Airlines Arena is being deserted in the stands and on the benches. With players entering free agency left and right, who knows what the team will be made of if Pat Riley didn’t work fast.
With some left over cap, the Heat offered Forward Chris Bosh a maximum contract of $118 million, and he graciously accepted after heavily considering leaving for the Houston Rockets, who offered him a measly $88 million in comparison.
However, two players are so loyal and grateful to Miami that they stayed with no maximum contract and even no LeBron.
Dwayne Wade led the Heat almost single-handedly to a finals win in 2006. When James, Wade, and Bosh formed the Big Three, Wade scored his last two finals trophies with the Heat. If it wasn’t for Miami, who knows where Wade would be.
Wade helped the Heat out by first opting out of the $41.8 million two-year contract he had remaining with the Heat, only to resign for another two years for nearly $7 million less with $34 million – less than a third of what Bosh is going for.
Wade is perfectly content with staying where his heart is, as he said in this tweet: “Home is where the heart is, my home, my city, my house…#HeatLifer.”
Another man who needs no money to stay where he considers home is Forward Udonis Haslem. Haslem attended Miami High School and later played for the University of Florida. After playing one year in France, Haslem played for Miami since 2003 and, from what we know, will continue to through 2016.
Haslem had previously taken a huge pay cut when the Big Three came to Miami in order to stay with the Heat. He will now do so again when Miami needs the money the most. He opted out of a $4.6 million contract with the Heat so they could sign him back for less than half that $2.7 million.
The Heat have massively gone down in popularity amongst fans and analysts alike. But with players like these willing to give it all for their team, any remaining fans should be half as loyal as they are.
After suffering major casualties in the off-season, the Heat are in a deep ditch now. And we, as the fans, have to help dig them out.