Miami is home to numerous crash diets, fads, and fast fashions that disappear in two months. Even the weather is just as volatile. Noon Monsoons and sunny skies throughout the rest of the afternoon are a symptom of their haywire climate. Heat Culture and crypto are the most consistent staples though. Heat Culture is a cult. The signs are all there. It’s deniable. And as Miami continues to tear its way to an NBA title, it’s one that isn’t easily replicated by a copycat league.
Amazingly, the Heat are becoming a marquee franchise by eschewing the coddling of superstars and instead embracing their hardcore Black Air Force energy. As I explained a year ago when the world overreacted to Udonis Haslem and Jimmy Butler trying to draw blood from one another on the sidewalk.
They’re the antithesis of Golden State’s Happy Warriors. The Heat are a unit forged by fire, much like Pat Riley’s 90s Knicks. Miami that compares to the Heat Culture stanning is the worshiping of crypto-lords. Not long ago, Kaseya Center was the FTX Arena. The cryptocurrency megafirm’s multi-million dollar naming rights deal was part of Mayor Francis Suarez’s master plan to turn Miami into the crypto capital of the world. Cryptocurrency is probably a little easier to define than Heat Culture. Crypto requires a new dictionary to understand. It’s extremely unstable and yet, the zealots continue to swear by its benefits. However, Miami’s investment into Heat Culture already has manifested more ROI than 99.99 percent of cryptocurrency shares.
Heat Culture has proven its usefulness as a subversive route around player empowerment. Since The Heatles era ended, Riley is the charismatic figure who has constructed a cult of personality around himself and Eric Spoelstra. As Hank Azaria imitating Jim Brockmire deftly pointed out on The Dan Le Betard Show with Stugotz, the Heat meet all the parameters of a cult, including Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem as the omnipresent enforcers.
The belief that suffering will eventually lead to a payoff, in the long run, is a tenet of both Heat Culture, cryptocurrency advocates, Mamba Mentality, and Charles Manson. Jimmy Butler didn’t bring his family to the 2020 Bubble because they’d be restricted. Say you’re in a cult without saying you’re in a cult. That decision reaped benefits in the form of an NBA Finals berth.
Time and time again, cults have imposed dietary restrictions on their stars. Former Heat players have gone on record to discuss how the franchise’s nutritional program was too much for them. Those who don’t buy in are simply excommunicated. Undrafted free agents are more amenable to conditioning than lottery picks of first-rounders with options and more stubborn egos.
In an era of instability, the Heat are as tight-knit as any cult. Most of their coaching staff is composed of retired stars or coaching vets that have spent the bulk of their careers with the Heat. Assistant coach Chris Quinn was an undrafted free agent signed by the Heat in 2006, embarked on a few journeyman seasons through the NBA and overseas, and is in his ninth season as an assistant coach.
Malik Allen is only in his fourth season on the Heat staff, but has a familiar background, beginning his playing career as an undrafted free agent signed by the Heat in 2001 Player development coach Octavio De La Grana is in his 17th year with the Heat. Director of Player Development Anthony Carter toured through several NBA destinations, but was originally plucked off the undrafted assembly line in 1999 by Riley and spent four seasons in Miami.
That was his second-longest stint with one organization besides his five seasons as a Denver Nugget approximately a decade into his career. Player development coach Eric Glass is in his 13th season on the Heat staff. Eric Fodor is the only full-time shooting coach in franchise history and has overseen some of the best shooting seasons in franchise history. Their top advance scout has been with the organization for 22 years.
It’s tougher to leave Miami than it is to quit Scientology. Their roster continuity from 2020 to 2021 and 2023 is incredible. Miami’s unwillingness to surrender Tyler Herro for James Harden became a meme in 2022. Can you imagine Harden in the Miami nightlife with Riley demanding he gets his BMI in check?
The Heat are a cult, but at least they’re a mutually beneficial one. Loyalty has been shown both ways. Few players are callously traded. Those who stick around like Haslem, are given cushy, symbolic jobs with a corner office. Assistant coaches only leave for higher-paying head coaching jobs or to join those former colleagues when they branch out to a new NBA city. And with three more rings, all those who committed to Heat-Cult-ure will be immortalized as unlikely NBA champions.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex