As Heat claim first title, fans hit the streets of Miami

MIAMI -- As the Miami Heat won their first NBA championship
in Dallas, thousands of fans celebrated in the team's arena 1,100
miles away, jumping on seats and screaming as the clock wound down
to zero.

When the buzzer sounded, ending their team's 95-92 win Tuesday
over the Mavericks, Heat fans ran out the front door of the
AmericanAirlines Arena yelling, "We're the champions." Someone
lit fireworks and others passed out the front page of The Miami
Herald with the word "Champs" on it.

More than 10,000 people celebrated inside the downtown Miami
arena after watching the live broadcast from Dallas on the big

"I've been a season ticket holder since 1989. It's fun to watch
them win one," said Mark Emanuele, 49, of Weston.

"It's nice to see Alonzo get his ring," said Emanuele, who was
waving a handmade poster that read "NBA Champions." "I know Shaq
and Wade are the key players, but Mourning played great off the

Half a dozen police cars pulled up outside as the game ended and
officers lined up across the street to prevent violence.

"Everything is calm so far. We're prepared, but so far things
are going well," said Miami police officer Thomas Visney.

"Shaq promised a championship and we got it. I'm speechless,"
said Loren Gronzato, 21, of Fort Lauderdale as he called friends on
his cell phone.

Early in the game, Heat fans had watched nervously as the Heat
trailed by as many as 14 points and struggled with turnovers before
taking a one-point lead at halftime.

The second half was much easier to watch, with the Heat holding
a slim lead most of the way. The crowd favorite of the night was
clear: Fans chanted "MVP" each time Wade stepped up to the line.

"Miami, we'll see you in a couple hours," said Heat coach Pat
Riley before the trophy presentation in Dallas.

Before the game, Miami city officials had promised a parade but
details had not been finalized.

Vicki Mallette, communication director for Mayor Manny Diaz, had
said there had been hesitation to formalize anything before the
team actually won, saying officials did not want "to jinx the

Fans were not waiting for a parade to fill the streets early
Wednesday. Drivers throughout South Florida honked their car horns
while their passengers out of car windows and sunroofs to wave
white Heat flags.

In trendy South Beach, partygoers filled cafe-lined Lincoln Road
to cheer their team's victory.

"We're going to go crazy, stay up all night, because we're the
champions. We've never been champions before," said Elias
Fernandez, 17, from Miami.

A building under construction downtown lit up with lights that
read "Let's go Heat."

A man selling championship T-shirts for $10 apiece outside the
arena said he had already sold about 750 of them a half-hour after
the game.

"They said we were going to get sweeped. We won four straight.
We're the NBA champions now. Welcome to Miami," said David Lewis,
19, from Fort Lauderdale.