Dozens of Heat fans streamed out of AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday night in the final minute of the game, missing the incredible comeback by Miami in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
With San Antonio ahead by five points with just 28 second to play, several Heat fans though it was curtains for the 2013 season and started heading to the exits so they wouldn't have to watch the Spurs celebrate on their home court.
"It wasn't our year," said one fan, who was part of the crowd that left the arena before the final buzzer sounded.
"I can't believe they lost, that's the only thing I'm thinking right now," said another fan. "They were oh-so close."
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But when the Heat tied the game with 5.1 second left, several fans tried to make their way back inside, only to be told they wouldn't be let back in due to the policy that prohibits anyone from re-entering the arena.
Fans had to watch the Heat pull out the 103-100 win in overtime on TVs from outside. Miami fans already get a bad rap from the rest of the country, and Tuesday's exodus will only cement their reputation as casual front-runners around the country.
Even though Miami has one of the best attendance records in the NBA since the Big Three came to town three years ago, many regular season home games begin with swaths of empty seats in the lower bowl of the arena thanks to late arrivers.
But that "crime" is nothing compared to missing one of the most amazing finishes in NBA Finals history. Just as people will talk about Ray Allen's gutsy game-tying three-pointer for years to come, so to will they remember the Heat fans who missed it because they wanted to get a jump start on post-game traffic.
Tuesday's mini-exodus sparked outcry from Miami natives and national observers. "Gotta beat traffic, you know?" tweeted Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard. "So many people have left that I’m honestly embarrassed for this city."
"I think we can agree that leaving an NBA Finals game before its completion is kind of a bad look," said Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports.
But at least Tuesday's episode was not as bad as the last Game 6 that took place in Miami. During the 2011 NBA Finals, scores of blue-clad Dallas Mavericks fans bought up tickets behind the Dallas bench on the secondary market. This gave the Mavs a bit of a hometown feel as they beat the Heat and clinched their first NBA title.
Game 7 will take place Thursday night. With another championship on the line and Game 6 fresh in their minds, perhaps the Heat fans who left early on Tuesday won't be so foolish to count out their team until the final buzzer has sounded.
But if Heat center Chris Bosh had his way, the early exiters would not be around for Game 7. On Wednesday, he said after the Heat's practice, "For all those guys who left, don't come back for Game 7."
Photo Credit: NBC6.com