Before the Miami Heat kick off the 2013-14 NBA season with a can't miss clash against Eastern Conference rival Chicago Bulls, the team that Pat Riley built will collect its championship rings for the second straight season.
Thanks to a press release on Heat.com, details of the festivities are now available:
• Doors open at 6:00 p.m., with championship ring ceremony activities slated to begin at 7:15 p.m. The ceremony will feature a visually spectacular video display which transforms the surface of the Heat court into a 3-D projection screen. Two separate video presentations will take fans on a journey through the Heat regular season, highlighting the team’s milestones and accomplishments, including the 27-game winning streak, the brotherhood that developed between the players and the early rounds of the 2013 Playoffs, followed by a riveting video segment focused on Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals. Heat ownership, basketball operations personnel and the coaching staff will receive their rings following the first video segment, while the Heat players will be presented with their rings at the conclusion of the second video element.
• The night will be highlighted by the raising of the 2013 NBA Championship Banner to the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena.
• The premiere of the 2013-14 Player Introduction Sequence will once again be set to the inspirational “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes and stars Heat players training in a harsh setting under severe conditions that only they can withstand.
The two-time defending champions should be used to this by now. Miami ceremoniously opened the 2012-13 season with a ring presentation, then went on to hand the Boston Celtics a 120-107 loss.
But these events don't always go according to plan. Back in 2006, just months after Dwyane Wade solidified his spot among the NBA elites and brought the Heat their first title in franchise history, Chicago waltzed into the AmericanAirlines Arena on opening night and dealt the reigning champs a 42-point drubbing.
There are several keys for the Heat tonight—including slowing down the finally healthy Derrick Rose—but perhaps none bigger than finding the right focus. The ring ceremony is something that should be celebrated, but Miami must remember it has a game to play following the presentation.
That's far from an impossible task, but reigning MVP LeBron James told ESPN.com's Michael Wallace that it does put an unnecessary challenge on the players involved:
It is what it is—there's nothing we can do about it. It's something we'd rather do [earlier], take care of last year. After we get our rings, then that's last year. And then we'll go from there.
Now, this league rarely passes up a great marketing opportunity. With all eyes of the basketball world centered on South Beach, the NBA can parade its champions in front of a global audience before delivering what could be an instant classic on the hardwood.
But could there be a better way to handle the celebration? Wade told Wallace that he'd like to see the ring ceremony held the night before the first game of the season.
“Put it on TV, sell it out for the fans in Miami and let them enjoy it,” Wade said. “And the next day come in for the game.”
It's funny that this question of timing should surface this close before Miami's first look at this fully loaded Chicago team. There may not be a bigger threat to the Heat's throne than Rose's Bulls; this might not be a "problem" for the Heat next season.
Whether Chicago can actually unseat the champs should be a lot clearer after tonight.
Expect the Heat to enjoy these festivities, but a win over a conference rival would be a bigger reason to celebrate.