MIAMI — Perhaps the Heat marketers should've handed out soundproof headphones instead of white NBA Finals T-shirts as the pumped-up fans were intent on drowning out any Oklahoma City Thunder interlopers who dared to bring their "Thunder Up" chants to AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday night.
And the boisterous, ear-splitting, standing-room-only, white-clad crowd succeeded in the decibel department.
After 11-year-old Julia Dale belted out another Whitney-esque version of the national anthem and PA announcer Michael Baiamonte drew out his introductions starting with Le-Bronnnnnn James while accompanied by four sets of shooting flames, the Heat fans were stoked.
"We're used to dealing with thunder on a daily basis here in the summer," cracked Evan Hirsch, of Fort Lauderdale, who purchased two 300-level tickets on StubHub for $162 apiece at 4 p.m. Sunday. "It's electrifying in here. Hey, I'd rather lose in Miami than win in Oklahoma."
Even Sam and Kim Hague admitted there's not much else to do in Oklahoma City than go to Thunder games, and that's why they shelled out $8,000 for lower-level, midcourt seats 18 rows up, including a four-day trip to South Florida.
"I'll probably get in a fight with a guy in a Seattle (SuperSonics) jersey," joked Sam Hague about the Thunder's predecessor. "I hate them more than Heat fans."
As for Father's Day, the Hague's left their four children at home.
"It was too expensive," said Kim Hague, decked out in a Russell Westbrook jersey.
"My kids gave me my present on Thursday. A gun, a Henry rifle," Sam said. "No, I didn't bring it."
Fans were also fired up by the Rev. Abraham J. Thomas, who wore a blue-fluffy top hat, white tuxedo shirt and white knickers while leading a marching band through the lower concourse.
"God loves both teams so I never pray for victory," Thomas said. "People need religion and recreation as a distraction. I have a lung disease and sleep with a breathing machine but we come here and forget about our problems for a couple of hours."
For Erin Turner, who drove from Orlando with husband David Rivas, son Dylan, 6, and daughter Sarah, 9, (both in James' shirts) the Father's Day game was filled with emotion. She lost her father, Fred Turner, former sports editor of the Sun Sentinel and rabid Boston sports fan, 14 months ago.
"I wondered on Facebook, who would he have rooted for in the Celtics' series," Turner said. "I've thought about him a lot today. He would want the Heat to win to make his son-in-law very happy."
Other fans warmed up for the action on the beer garden patio outside of Bongo's, including Michael Torres and son, Tommy, 8, who was dressed up like a king with a gold crown and red cape in honor of "King James," his favorite player.
"This is the best Father's Day you could have," Mike Torres said. "We owe LeBron a title."
Haya Pomrenze, an occupational therapist at Jackson North, also wore a crown, only hers had 50th birthday written on it.
"I spent a lot of time online and a couple of thousand on seats for my two children and daughter-in-law," said Pomrenze, of Hollywood. "You only live once. My first name means life and today you're going to see life for the Heat."
As for her husband, Dr. David Tepper, she left him at home spending a content Father's Day on his recliner watching the U.S. Open golf tournament and Heat game on television.
"He wanted to stay at home. I'm too loud," she said.
©2012 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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