They are the only two repeat major league sports champions in Miami history, their rosters featured some of the best-known athletes in the country and each team built a winning streak of near-record length.
Yet the 1972 and ’73 Miami Dolphins and the 2012 and ’13 Miami Heat climbed to the highest level of their respective sports in athletic environments that couldn’t have been more different.
The Miami where the Heat reigns includes teams in all four major team sports plus the University of Miami, whose basketball program is on the rise and whose football team seems to alternate between winning national championships and wallowing in scandal depending on the decade.
The Heat have won three NBA titles, the Miami Marlins are a two-time World Series winner and the Florida Panthers have played in a Stanley Cup final.
When the Dolphins won back-to-back titles there were no other major league franchises in town and the Hurricanes were a middle-of-the pack program. The University of Miami didn’t even field a basketball team between 1970-71 and 1984-85.
“Same accomplishment with the two straight championships but there’s no similarity,” said Hank Goldberg, a longtime radio voice in Miami who currently covers horse racing and the NFL for ESPN. “The Dolphins at the time were the first and only pro team in town. The Heat’s accomplishment is far more of a bandwagon thing.
“The basketball customer is far different from what the Dolphins customer was. Now they buy [Heat] tickets as a social event. With the Dolphins it was all football.”