Two Miami Heat events this weekend re-affirmed what I have felt for some time. When it comes to great PR, no sports team in South Florida gets it like the Heat.
Thursday, the team played an intra-squad scrimmage on the American Airlines arena floor and let season ticket holders come watch. I know fans feel a little basketball-starved because of the lockout, but I was surprised to see thousands of folks turn out. When the players were introduced, they didn’t come out of the locker room. They came down from the stands..high fiving the fans.
Saturday, the team again opened the arena to show its highlight movie “Into the Fire”, a somewhat fluffy documentary about Year one of the Big Three. The turnout was smaller, but fans were just as enthusiastic. They got revved up when Heat players Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, and Chris Bosh came out for a little post-movie roundtable discussion.
The Heat always seems to understand that little things mean a lot, not only to the fans..but to the players. What other organization has sent its entire staff out to a players home for a surprise birthday party, as they once did for Udonis Haslem.
I was also personally impressed when Pat Riley and the Heat PR staff trucked out a cooler of Heinkenen for a group of reporters to toast the memory of Jim Mandich shortly after he died.
It was such a thoughtful and classy move, and felt totally genuine. Pat Riley might be a cold-blooded wheeler dealer who was a taskmaster as a coach, but he’s got a human side..and he has passed it on to his organization. Go Heat.
Dolphins, Marlins, and Panthers…take note.