Friday , Jun , 23 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Heat, City of Miami take in championship celebration

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Miami is officially part of Wade County, as the
Heat and their superstar NBA Finals MVP took in a massive championship
celebration in front of family, friends and adoring fans on Friday.

Floats carrying owner Micky Arison, Miami radio and television crews and the
Heat dance team followed an entourage of trucks holding Wade, star center
Shaquille O’Neal and head coach Pat Riley among others.

The parade traveled between throngs of fans that lined both sides of Biscyane
Boulevard on a bright, breezy afternoon in south Florida. Fans lined the
streets since the early morning hours clad in Heat gear, holding signs and
showing their appreciation for a club that fought back from a two-game deficit
to defeat Dallas and capture its first NBA championship.

At times the players looked as excited as the fans, climbing out of the trucks
and greeting them with high-fives and handshakes.

“I want to make this one a little more personal,” said O’Neal. “I just wanted
to get out to touch some people.”

Confetti and streamers flowed through the sky as an expected crowd of 250,000
welcomed the party-like atmosphere.

The Heat overcame a 13-point deficit in Game 3 to stave off an insurmountable
series deficit, then held serve on their home floor in both Game 4 and 5.

Wade followed with a performance that conjured memories of Chicago Bulls guard
Michael Jordan, hitting clutch shots and willing his club to a victory in Game
6 that clinched the NBA title.

“I’m just wowed about winning a championship,” said Wade. “We deserve it. We
put a lot of hard work in. Our fans deserve it.”

The core of the champions — Wade, O’Neal, Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem and
Antoine Walker — will return for a title defense. The only question marks are
James Posey, Gary Payton and 61-year-old head coach Pat Riley, who pushed all
of the correct buttons after moving from the ownership suite to the bench
early in the season.

For today at least, thoughts of next year didn’t take away from a the
celebration after 18 years of waiting.