#TBT: Reflecting Back on 26 years of Being a Miami HEAT Fan — 1990-91
Commentary // 6 months ago
By: Leif Sylvander
This is part one of my season long #TBT series that aims to highlight each Miami HEAT season chronologically since day one of my fandom. My hope is to provide fellow HEAT fans with one long time fan’s perspective of the path of the franchise over the last 26 years and to reflect on what the journey has been like.
The first HEAT game I ever remember attending in person was on Feb. 26, 1991. I was nine years old, which now serves as a harsh reminder of how old (and #washed) I am today. The trip to the Miami Arena was a late birthday present from my uncle and I was as excited to attend as I had been to do anything up to that point in my life. Decked out in my Champion Brand size 36 Glen Rice HEAT jersey, I enjoyed my first Miami HEAT experience.
It was a regular season matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks (who coincidentally play at American Airlines Arena tonight). I remember my first live NBA experience being extremely fun, even in the midst of a loss. I was just excited to be learning the game, identifying the players and becoming familiar with what it meant to be a sports fan. The Bucks were a far superior team to Miami at the time and won easily that night (119-106) behind the stellar play of Danny Shayes.
Yes, I saw Danny Shayes and Jack Sikma play basketball and now I am writing about it. Nothing screams “old NBA guy” like saying you saw Jack Sikma play in person.
This was the franchise’s third season in existence. They seemed, at the time, to have at least secured a dynamic trio to build around in Rony Seikaly, Glen Rice, and Sherman Douglas. The Syracuse connection between Douglas and Seikaly was considered a link that would establish great chemistry between the two players playing the most important positions in that era of NBA basketball. HEAT fans had high hopes for the future behind their duo of Syracuse Orangemen and second-year phenom nicknamed “G-Money”.
Upon reflection, another element of the 1990-91 campaign that proves memorable for this HEAT fan is the stories of two rookies that started their career in Miami that season.
One was bait and switch extraordinaire, Willie Burton.
On opening night he scored 25 points in 24 minutes off the bench in a HEAT victory. HEAT fans were increasingly encouraged when he followed that performance up with 17 points off the bench the very next game. HEAT brass had touted the talented scoring guard as an up and coming player that would solidify a core destined for a playoff berth one day.
Unfortunately, Burton was wildly inconsistent over the course of his career. His maturity and mental approach to the game proved to be what held him back from ever realizing his full potential. His crowning career achievement would ultimately come in a game he dropped a 50 burger against the Miami HEAT wearing a 76ers uniform years later.
Another rookie that made his debut this season that HEAT fans of today will know very well was Keith Askins.
Askins was undrafted out of the University of Alabama. A spot minute player his rookie year who rarely played, but his hustle and hard work earned him a roster spot that would eventually blossom into a life-long career with the Miami HEAT organization.
One of the highlights of the 90-91 season was a 124-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets, in which Sherman Douglas scored a career-high 42 points. Nicknamed “The General”, he would go on to be named Team MVP by his teammates. (Do they even vote on those type of awards anymore?)
Notable transactions from the 1990-91 season:
The resignation of the first Head Coach in HEAT history, Ron Rothstein. A week before the 1991 NBA Draft, the HEAT replaced Rothstein with Kevin Loughery.
The signing of cult favorite, HEAT center Alan Ogg.
Check back next Thursday for this HEAT fan’s reflection of the 1991-92 season, which included our first trip to the NBA Playoffs.