ESPN:"LIV had to close its doors to the public by 3 a.m. once the team had arrived, already nearing capacity, and then it was time to pop bottles of champagne - an estimated tab of over $200,000 - including the legendary Ace of Spades super magnum-sized champagne (we're talking 15 liters of bubbly, people, with a sticker price of $75K)."
MIAMI -- As the Miami Heat's lead skyrocketed Thursday night from five just after halftime to an insurmountable 24 by the end of the third quarter, their fans outside the AmericanAirlines Arena decided it was time to celebrate the team's second NBA championship in six years.
The thousands gathered in bars, restaurants and a park near the arena screamed in joy late Thursday as the Heat dropped one 3-pointer after another. Fans used the fourth quarter to get an early start on their party as they watched their team coast to a 121-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won the series in five games.
The promise made to South Florida fans 23 months earlier when LeBron James and Chris Bosh added their talents to Dwyane Wade's had arrived.
It had been a team effort, with major Game 5 contributions coming from supporting players Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.
As the game ended, the fans from the neighborhood bars pushed happily toward the arena, meeting those leaving the game to jump, whoop and holler. They banged pots and pans and blew whistles. Championship shirts were sold, and special editions of The Miami Herald were handed out. Traffic on Biscayne Boulevard outside the arena was gridlocked.
The only negativity came when the Thunder's team bus left the arena -- some fans sprayed it with liquid and made obscene gestures toward the players as it crawled away. Still, Miami police reported no serious problems after the game.
James, the regular season and Finals MVP, may be hated in Cleveland and elsewhere for leaving his native state's Cavaliers, but his adopted hometown showered him with love after the game. Fans waved posters of their hero and defended him against critics, who branded him a choker who would never win a championship.
"I don't know how much better LeBron can get," Elgin Baylor said.
Rick Barry: "I know LeBron can be even better. That's scary to think about, but as good as he is he can be a lot better. Durant doesn't have the strength of LeBron, of course, but he's five years away from reaching his peak... Oh my God, it's scary how good he's going to be."
George Gervin on Kevin Durant: "His potential is scary."
"These guys are so good," Larry Bird said. "I'm glad I'm out of the league."