MIAMI (AP) - And after the sixth game, they rested.The Miami Heat began a well-deserved break Wednesday after their triumphantreturn to South Florida with the NBA championship trophy in tow. The Heat beatthe Dallas Mavericks 95-92 in Game 6 Tuesday for the 18-year-old franchisesfirst title.
Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, center Shaquille ONeal and the other Heat membersarrived at Miami International Airport shortly before 7 a.m., just hours afternoisy but peaceful celebrations sprung up in South Beach, Little Havana andHialeah.Lines of cars rolled slowly though streets, horns honking as passengers leaned outof windows to cheer along with throngs of onlookers who banged pots and pans,danced and waved signs. No arrests were reported."Its just fantastic, fantastic," Heat owner Micky Arison told reporters afterarriving. "Everything we heard about the reaction from Miami have beentremendous. The fans have been great. Gracias, Miami."More parties were being scheduled. The championship parade envisioned 11 yearsago by Pat Riley, Heat coach and president, was set for Friday at 2 p.m. indowntown Miami. Heat players also were expected to attend a party Friday atMansion, a nightclub on trendy South Beach."Im going to live it up," Wade said, "because we deserve it."Francisco Saravia, a 34-year-old Miami biology teacher, started his celebrationTuesday at American Airlines Arena, where he watched a live broadcast of thegame with about 14,000 other fans. He ran outside the arena after the game toexchange high-fives, then made his way to the airport to await the team.
"It gives you a sense of pride, a sense of belonging to a community that embracesthe team," Saravia said.At the airport, fans gave huge cheers and pressed up against a chain link fence asthe players plane arrived. Fire trucks shot streams of water over the aircraft as ittaxied toward a hangar, where a fleet of black limousines and sport utility vehicleswaited to carry the new champs home."It was great looking out the window, it was a great feeling to see the fans,"assistant coach Bob McAdoo said. "The pilot told them to look out the windowand they saw the crowd."ONeal hoisted the golden trophy with one hand and then cradled it as he walkedoff the plane, smiling and waving. On his first appearance in Miami after he wastraded from Los Angeles two summers ago, he promised he would bring a title -and delivered.Riley said the team drank 22 bottles of the high-end Cristal champagne on theflight."Im running on fumes right now," said center Alonzo Mourning, whos played 13seasons, interrupted twice by retirements to fight a life-threatening kidneyailment, but is now a champion. "Im so excited."
DALLAS (AP) - Pat Riley first promised it 11 years ago: a Miami Heat victoryparade down Biscayne Boulevard. Shaquille ONeal guaranteed it two summersago, vowing to add a fourth ring to his big hand in his new city.And with one tenacious game after another in these NBA finals, Dwyane Wadedelivered both.
The Miami Heat are champions for the first time, thanks to two basketball greatswho made good on their promises - and the next great one, whose promise seemsunlimited.The man they call "Flash" had 36 points and 10 rebounds in the teeth of a hostileDallas crowd Tuesday night, capping his magnificent playoffs and the Heatssizzling four-game comeback by leading Miami past the Mavericks 95-92."Its one of the best feelings, next to my wife and my son, that Ive ever had in mylife," Wade said. "Im going to live it up!"The Heat roared back from a two-game deficit to win the NBA finals in six. Wade,the obvious finals MVP, cemented his superstardom with a dominant four-gameperformance capped by four pressure-packed, final-minute free throws in thesame building where Miami went down two games to none.
He even missed a pair in the waning seconds, giving Dallas a final shot to tie. ButJason Terry missed an open look for 3, and Wade grabbed the rebound and flungit joyously into the stands as time expired.Where theres a Wade, theres a will. His grace added a fifth ring to Rileys finger- third-most among NBA coaches - and the first jewelry in Shaqs collection withno connection to Kobe Bryant."The great Pat Riley told me we were going to win today," said ONeal, who hadnine points and 12 rebounds. "I didnt have the best game. But D-Wades beendoing it all year. Hes the best player ever."Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Mavs, but Dallas couldntmanage the last basket it needed to topple Wades determination. With theircrowd booing every call and seething with every missed opportunity, the Mavsmissed their own chance for their first title.
A day after the Carolina Hurricanes became first-time champions in the NHL bywinning the Stanley Cup, Miami also made history.The Heat finished the franchises 18th season with one of the leagues greatestrallies in a finals, and the last period of Game 6 was appropriately gritty.Miami nursed a narrow lead, taking an 89-85 advantage with 2:36 left on twojumpers by James Posey. Jerry Stackhouse cut it to a point with a 3-pointer in hisfirst game back from suspension, but after Udonis Haslem and Josh Howardtraded jumpers, Wade hit two free throws with 26 seconds left.Erick Dampier then fumbled a pass on Dallas next possession, and Wade foughtto get the loose ball. He hit two more free throws with 17.7 seconds to play, butafter Howard hit a pair, Wade missed two with 10.3 seconds left.But Terry missed an open 3-pointer. It was the last of 11 straight misses, and thefinal disappointment in the Mavs otherwise remarkable season.
"We made a lot of progress this year," said Dallas Avery Johnson, the NBAscoach of the year. "We aimed high this year, and I told them that a lot of teamshave to go through this. This will really hurt this summer. I hope they work outhard, make me a better coach. Im ready to try it again."Miami hung onto the clincher in front of more than 20,000 Dallas fans still furiousat every NBA official and commissioner David Stern for the Mavs three losses inMiami last week. Owner Mark Cuban stoked the furor with his antics after Game5, which resulted in a $250,000 fine earlier Tuesday.
But while the Mavs worried about every perceived slight, the Heat focused onfulfilling the promises of Riley and ONeal."I came to Miami because of this young fella right here," ONeal said, indicatingWade. "I knew I wanted to make him better."Dallas fans both booed and cheered the trophy presentation, and Stern wasjeered repeatedly.