Watching LeBron James' party was surreal

Originally Published: July 10, 2010
By Chris Perkins | Special to Page 2

MIAMI -- This was audacious behavior even for Miami, a city that basks in excess when it comes to partying.

The stage, the runway, the huge neon sign that said "HEAT" in red letters. The smoke machines. The colored lights. Yeah, maybe it was a bit over the top for some, but this was doing it right, Miami style.

As 12,000 rabid Heat fans cheered wildly at AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday night, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- who Wade called "arguably the best trio ever to play the game of basketball" -- emerged from below the stage on lifts, backs to the crowd.

When they finally turned and presented themselves to the world for the first time together in Miami Heat uniforms the cheers rose to an ear-splitting decibel level. Then smoke filled the stage and the players strutted down the runway, slapping hands with giddy fans.

"This is amazing," Bosh would later say.

"Amazing" is only the starting point when you have James, Wade and Bosh. You do things big. You keep people excited. There will be no half-stepping on this one, not in any way.

"Yeah, it's going to be Hollywood down here; that's what they say, yeah," Wade said. "But when we step on the court, it's going to be about business, and everyone who wants to be a part of this organization is going to have to make that sacrifice."

At that exact moment something crashed to the floor near an arena employee.

"See," Wade said, showing perfect comedic timing, "he just sacrificed his arm."

Everybody laughed. Indeed, these are happy days in Miami, even for that beleaguered employee. Heat owner Micky Arison and Heat president Pat Riley had what might be the best off-season in the history of American sports in uniting James, the two-time MVP, Wade, who single-handedly delivered the Heat a title in 2006, and Bosh, the relatively low-key five-time All-Star.

And now, everybody is thinking big.

"Probably more than anything, the single thing I've learned from Pat, working for him for 15 years, is to think big. Really," said third-year Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who has been in the Heat organization since 1995. "I mean every single conversation. It doesn't even have to be about basketball. We could be talking about re-doing a kitchen or something, and he'll turn it into making it a two level state of the art something that's not around for 20 years, that type of thing."

In truth, Friday's welcoming event for Wade, James and Bosh was only a continuation of the party.

When James announced his intention to join Wade and Bosh with the Heat live on ESPN Thursday night, Heat fans drove down Biscayne Boulevard, the street that fronts AmericanAirlines Arena, honking their horns and waving Miami Heat flags out of car windows. Even now, three days later, the party still hasn't stopped.

As the welcome celebration reached its apex, confetti showered the players and fans, the colored lights flashed and the cheering again hit a playoff-level decibel.

And how will Wade, James and Bosh return all this love? They'll win multiple titles, of course.

"Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven&" James said with a smile, later adding with a straight face, "And when I say that, I really believe it."

Chris Perkins is a freelance writer for Sports Media Exchange, a national freelance writing network.