Yesterday was a dark day for South Florida sports.
Basketball would be my third favorite sport, yet focusing on anything else but the loss of No. 3 is proving particularly difficult. Thirteen years is a long time, an eternity really in the free-agent-frenzy driven sports world most of us have grown up in. Staying in one place is a rarity, and given the decade of glory the Miami Heat built mostly upon the shoulders of free agent muscle, perhaps it was naive to believe that Dwyane Wade was going to follow the path of Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter.
Or, if you prefer, and one friend has already commented on the irony of Wade’s thirteen year tenure, the path of South Florida and NFL legend Daniel Constantine Marino.
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Marino has been on my mind a lot since hearing the news late Wednesday night. For his forced retirement has to be the comparison, right? My mind was churning through the seasons, across all four franchises, looking for the last time sports made me feel this hollow. Zach Thomas, left unsigned and eligible to be signed by the Dallas Cowboys after twelve years of anchoring the middle for the Dolphins? Not quite- the skills were fading, and health had become such a concern that he honestly should have retired instead of playing out that final Dallas season. Jason Taylor? Yea, he became a Jet, and even moonlighted as a Redskin once, but he still played thirteen (there it is again) seasons in South Florida, and walked away from the game on his terms.
“The Dan thing”, as second worst coach in Dolphins history Dave Wannstedt referred to it, ended poorly though. Just the way this has. A star, the star, told there wasn’t a place for him essentially, and that if he wanted to keep playing, he’d have to come in and compete just to start. Or just play somewhere else. At 15 years old, I was ready to either blow my inconsequential savings on season tickets to watch his final campaign, or become the world’s biggest Minnesota Vikings fan if he did go ahead and sign their offer. And when they played Miami in Week 2, I’d be the one running around Miami all clad in purple.
Yanks Go Yard
Which is where I’m at this time as well. If I learned nothing else yesterday, it’s that there will be eight games over the next two seasons where I won’t be rooting for the only basketball team I’ve ever cared about enough to cheer for.
But then, along with realizing that I clearly still have unresolved issues about something pointless that happened almost seventeen years ago, I was also struck by the fact that Miami Marlins fans have never come to close to feeling this kind of connection to one of their own.
And if this franchise is going to gain any kind of traction, any kind of real staying power, they need to.
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