The Arrival

‘Hello World!’

The 2015-16 Miami Heat said ‘Hello World!’ on Wednesday night (3 weeks ago) by beating their first opponent, the Charlotte Hornets, if not easily then readily. An opening game that was and an opening line that is, almost perfect. Even 9 games in, this still holds true. Allow me to explain.

Most current computer science courses use the above line as the introduction to computer coding syntax and logic. The first assignment in most textbooks is to write a self contained program that displays the desired results, “Hello World!”. A simple task, however, my first attempt to produce the phrase yielded something resembling a 10,000 year old dead language. A second attempt burned down and then sank into the swamp. But on the third attempt I managed to get the monitor to display those two beautiful words: ‘Jello World?’. Almost perfect.

I’ve always loved computers. Technology. Social Media is my muse. If you know of me, I hide behind the virtual anonymity of twitter as @PantsFreeZone like the fraudulent failure but fabulously mustached, Wizard of Oz. Like Claw from Inspector Gadget. Or Evan Goldberg. In fact, many people simply picture me as Snoopy because of my twitter avatar and I think that would make Charles Shultz very uncomfortable.


“I wanted to have the adoration of John Lennon but have the anonymity of Ringo Starr. I didn’t want to be a frontman. I just wanted to be back there and still be a rock and roll star at the same time.” – Kurt Cobain

So why am I here? What do I actually wish to disclose to you, one of the readers who probably wondered onto this page looking for a nudist colony trip adviser? I’m glad you asked. I love sports. That is something you are allowed to know about me. I love the sound of a net snapping, that breath of a second before a crowd explodes, last second shots, defensive heroics, greatness and goatness, in a word, the NBA and if we drill it down even further, I specifically love the Miami Heat. I also love reading and writing. So I thought I would combine the two and tell you why I am in love with this particular team and this season. But not all today. (Maybe we can make this a regular thing. Or perhaps a one time moment, which we all look back on in 10 years, with a wistful sigh and say ‘Remember when that Pants guy built his billion-dollar empire off of that one stupid blog post?’)

nba miami heat

The Miami Heat are a team that I’ve grown up with and wearing. A team that has watched me pour cereal on my head while singing Happy Birthday to myself in a high chair (I was 23). A team that gifted a wide-eyed, lanky youth a Foam Finger signed by the illustrious Bimbo Coles. The team that I pretended to be a part of for 8 years in my parents’ driveway practicing a Glenn Rice jumper or a Tim Hardaway crossover or a Harold Minor dunk just kidding, we only practiced the fundamentals in my driveway, none of that flashy, fancy gibberish. Bounce passes and taking charges 24/7.

As a child, I only wanted two things really; the board game Fireball Island and every Marvel Heroes trading card in existence. A kid I went to school with was gifted Fireball Island for his birthday and me as a best friend the day after. We played that game for hours and I returned day after day to his home for weeks. I ate at his house, slept there when it was allowed and essentially moved in. Everything was almost perfect. Then one day, Pony Boy’s mother used the grill to burn Fireball Island to cinders in a moment of irony and terror to finally rid her household of me.

Fireball Island. EST 1992

When I got older the sport of basketball became a form of mental release and the basketball court a bastion from the pressures of grades, puberty and girls. This was the era when cellphones were still the size of bricks and not everyone had one, thus I could bike to the local court and hoist shots for hours in solitude. Running plays and possible situations. Counting down “3…2…1” and trying to hit a miracle buzzer beater or the True/False game which touched on the major topics of the time like: “If I make this shot, Amy in Chemistry will go out with me.” and then airballing said shot to truly represent the reality that was my teenage social life. I didn’t have a ton of friends. My parents were splitting up. Life was uneven, but the Heat were an oasis I could cling to amid the turbulence. During this time, basketball was half therapist, half Magic 8-ball and half best friend. And the NBA’s Miami Heat, they were my new Fireball Island.

That logo is fire. Literally.

The Miami Heat. Born in the ashes of 1988. A Phoenix burgeoning despite the crazy humidity. A fanbase’s refuge in the tumultuous whirlwind that is South Florida sports. Almost always equal to the task of expectation. Revered, respected and envied for the excellence manifest in the team’s history, present and future. I couldn’t tell you my sister’s children’s names, but I can list moments and memories from Heat games of recent glory and the distant past. Ray Allen Game 6. Dwyane Wade tipping away the attempted lob at the end of Game 3 in 2006 which broke the Heat through and led to their first ever championship. Bosh screaming after hitting a game winner versus Portland. J-Will’s panache, Toine’s shimmy, Payton’s last jumper. Jeff Van Gundy superglued to Zo’s leg. Mike Miller, Shane Battier, PJ Brown, James Posey and each of their moments. The Warden. Pat Riley and his rings. May 4th, 1997. 2006. Mario Chalmers dribbling the ball off of his foot out of bounds. And the best part is that this memory tapestry is available to all of us. Every moment, every perfect, beautiful second, every heartbreaking “Of course” instant is etched in the faces and smiles of the members of Section 400, located at the very top of the Miami Heat’s arena. Feel free to visit. Bring roasted almonds.

This team is different. This season is different. You can almost see the dark gloom of last season evaporate like a shadow, rebounding like a perfect Josh McRoberts’ bounce pass off of the polished wood floor and mesmerizing us all, as if he had swept a gentle hand through his luscious locks and glanced our way. Ahem. This team announced it’s “Hello World!” with old school thump in Udonis Haslem and classic Dwyane Wade, looking lithe and healthier than he has in the past 5 years.

During the opening game, I was transported once again to my sanctuary for the duration. A smile affixed to my face. My fingers dancing over the keyboard in animated joy trading verbal high fives via twitter and text. Eyes watching for that next “…” moment. Our Heat have arrived. My Fireball Island has arisen. Come, my friends, the season beckons, my introduction is complete and it is time to write that next line of code:

int main()

{ cout << “Hello World!\n”;

cout << “Get off my lawn!\n”;

return 0; }

Almost perfect.

Let’s enjoy the season together, shall we?

400 section.jpg
Every moment, every perfect, beautiful second, every heartbreaking “Of course” instant is etched in the faces and smiles of the members of Section 400, located at the very top of the Miami Heat’s home arena.