Miami Heat Rides Underdog Persona to NBA Finals

Back in the 2010 NBA offseason the Miami Heat took the league by storm when they acquired All-Stars Lebron James and Chris Bosh to their roster. Those two future hall of famers combined with All-Star Dwayne Wade made for what basketball fans across the world called the “Big-3.” From 2011-2014 Miami went to 4 straight finals, two of which they won. 

Known at the time as one of the first true “superteams,” Miami’s rise to the top was just as strong as its decline. Between Wade and Bosh’s severe injuries, and LeBron James’ departure back to Clevand, things were never the same in South Beach. From the 2014 season on, Miami suddenly fell to not even making the playoffs.

Things in Miami turned in 2019; however, Miami acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler, veterans Andre Igudola and Jae Crowder, and what Mt. Hebron Varsity basketball coach Jared Ettinger describes as, “young, fearless guys in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.”   

With Covid-19 halting the 2019-20 season, and immediately going into the playoffs, Miami received an invite to be one of 22 teams participating in the “NBA Bubble.” Going in as the 5th seed in the east, Miami was not expected to be there long. 

 “I was expecting to see Miami make it to the playoffs and likely lose in the 2nd round,” Coach Ettinger said. 

Much like Coach Ettinger, Mt. Hebron sophomore and Miami Heat fan, Troy Sutton, “really expected [Miami] to fall short of the Bucks,” who Miami beat in the 2nd round. 

Once the basketball community, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, saw Miami beat the 1st seeded Bucks in the 2nd round, a sense of communal hope and praise began to grow. Players who were far from phenomenal in the regular season, such as Miami shooting guard Tyler Herro, were now adored. 

“It’s pretty obvious how everyone’s getting behind Miami. Tyler Herro is an absolute bucket. I’ve seen some stuff for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo here and there but Herro is where it’s all at. People love to root for the underdog,” said Sutton. 

When asked about how the community began supporting Miami as a collective, Coach Ettinger had this to say; “They’re fun. They’re the underdog. They are well connected. They have a ‘cool’ energy about them.”

This common trend of “rooting for the underdog” is not something Miami themselves shied away from either. In a tweet, Miami’s top player Jimmy Butler proclaimed, “We been underdogs our entire life, everybody up here got a chip on their shoulder.”

 An old text message sent from Miami undrafted shooting guard Duncan Robinson to sports writer Mark Titus went viral after Titus tweeted about it when Miami won the eastern conference finals. The message showed how Robinson was looking to learn about journalism and sports writing when he was uncertain about his future in basketball. The same Robinson who has been effective in Miami’s starting lineup.

Forward Bam Adebayo put it more simply. “We’re underdogs man, nobody thought we were gonna make it this far. But we’re gonna go out, play hard…we’re underdogs like I always say,” he told SportsCenter’s John Anderson.

However for Adebayo and the Heat, all good things come to an end. Despite making it to the finals and lasting six games, Miami has been defeated by the 1st-seeded Los Angeles Lakes, led by LeBron James. 

Although Miami is not leaving the bubble with championship rings and champagne-stained shirts, they are leaving with more experience and chemistry then they ever had before. Many Miami players took to social media to ensure fans they will be back and better next year.

“Definitely not the way we wanted it to go, but I’m so proud of my brothers for showing zero quit night in and night out. What we’ve built is something special and we’ll be back!!” Miami guard Goran Dragic said. 

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