CORAL GABLES — Here is what Dwyane Wade said on his way out the door Saturday, a step behind LeBron James, even as the cheers were still rising in the BankUnited Center for the other basketball team in town:
"Who'd have thought this in a football town?"
That we're the surprise center of the basketball universe?
Look at this paradigm shift. We've got the Heat on one side of Miami, defending their NBA championship, spreading their brand internationally, taking on the Lakers today.
On Saturday, the two sides of success met, too. Miami coach Jim Larranaga received a phone call earlier in the week about leaving tickets for LeBron, Wade and James Jones, a Miami alum.
"We told them, 'no, sorry, sold out,' '' Larranaga said.
He kids because he wins.
LeBron and Wade sat courtside for Saturday's game in a good statement about the program's arrival. A better one? When LeBron and Wade stood, cheered and high-fived each other after Miami guard Shane Larkin bounced a pass off the backboard so teammate Kenny Kadji could dunk it.
"Some recruits might see that,'' Larranaga said.
They'll hear this story, too: Two summers ago, Chris Bosh worked out with the Hurricanes a month after the Heat lost to Dallas in the NBA championship. Larranaga, who had just taken over the program, asked Bosh after the workout what he thought.
"Can I be honest?" Bosh said.
"Please do,'' Larranaga said.
"Your guys don't run the floor,'' Bosh said. "They don't work very hard. They had no physicality, no spirit to their game."
Larranaga did what any good coach would. He asked Bosh to tell his players that. It resulted in an impromptu team meeting in the Miami weight room where Bosh delivered "the best five-minute talk I've ever heard,'' Larranaga said.
Bosh began by saying he wished he'd played better in the season-ending Game 6 loss to Dallas. That game haunted him, he said. It was why he was working harder than ever in his life. He then turned the focus on the kids.
"You guys don't work hard enough — you don't deserve the wins you want,'' Bosh said.
Larranaga said that speech became an impetus to his players working this past summer. Center Julian Gamble lost 20 pounds. Kadji lost 24 pounds.
"The success we're having, we worked for,'' guard Durand Scott said.
Miami is ranked eighth now, but brace yourself. Four teams in the top five lost this week. There's some thought it could vault all the way to No. 1. ESPN analyst Doris Burke pushed that idea during Saturday's blowout. And such talk buoys the thought, considering her platform.
"Miami needed to win in a big way to be considered for No. 1, and they did exactly that,'' Burke said after the game. "Duke and Indiana are two other teams ranked above them, and they were No. 1, and they lost it.
"There's going to be a lot of sentiment to give someone else a chance there. And if Miami gets to No. 1, they might hold it for a while. The only ranked team they play from here on is Duke."
This will take a moment to digest. For generations, we've been a football town. But the Dolphins and UM football are down. But now?
"We'll be back,'' Wade said, leaving Saturday's game.
"We watch them all the time,'' Larkin said of the Heat.
The last teams from the same area to win NBA and NCAA titles were the University of Michigan and the Detroit Pistons in 1989. As UM rises and the Heat are the Heat, can this basketball town do the same?
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at Twitter.com/davehydesports.