Are the Heat the new kings of South Beach?

Poll: Have the Dolphins Lost Miami?

I’m not writing this article to lay it on thicker for the Miami Dolphins, we do enough of that around here already. I’m simply posing a question that I think now, more than ever, needs to be answered. Are the Miami Dolphins losing their place atop the hearts and minds of the people of South Florida?

For years Miami was a Dolphins town, and why not? The Dolphins were the biggest thing going in the entire city, Don Shula came to town after the George Wilson years and immediately added a sense of legitimacy to the team. The team won the AFC in just Shula’s second season, by his third they were posting the only undefeated season in NFL history, by his fourth they won another Super Bowl. In Don Shula’s 26 years as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins he had just two losing seasons. That tends to ingratiate a team to a city. Especially at a time when the Hurricanes weren’t a real college program yet and the Miami Heat and Florida Marlins didn’t even exist.

Lately though, the Dolphins have been slipping, recording losing seasons in five of the last seven years. Fans are slowly beginning to lose their patience, uncertainty amongst the front office, unclear sense of organizational direction, a failed attempt to replace a head coach and a draft that left many fans scratching their heads has the fan-base largely divided and heated.

And speaking of Heat, the Miami Heat are winning. And they’re not just winning they’re hammering teams in the playoffs with star-power and exciting basketball. Even if you don’t like the Heat, they’re still an exciting team to watch. Compare that dynamic with the boring product being put on the field at the Stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie and you have to begin to wonder whether the Dolphins are still the favorite sons of South Beach.

Now this all comes with the caveat that I am a die-hard Fins fan and I’m really not that big a fan of the Heat. But I was recently in South Florida and despite it being near draft-time I didn’t see a single piece of Dolphins swag in all of Miami (and that was over several days). Now that’s not an indication of how the sentiment may actually be. That’s just what I saw and it was right at the start of the playoffs in the deadest part of the lockout, but it’s still disconcerting. Especially for an out-of-towner.

I don’t know for sure that Miami is now a basketball town. While living in Tampa the Lightning won a title my senior year of high school and for a couple years afterwards Tampa tried to be a hockey town. But it was more of a fad and it slowly passed, the city once again bleeds Pewter and Red.

The Heat may not go so quietly. They’re much higher profile, they have more star power in their starting five than the Dolphins do on their 53-man roster. I figured when LeBron James brought his talent to South Beach ESPN would open up a regional site for Miami, or at least Florida. We already had ESPN New York, ESPN Boston, ESPN Chicago, Dallas and LA, so Miami would obviously be next, right?

Nope, ESPN gave the Heat their own site. The Heat Index on That means nationally the Dolphins are so unexciting ESPN doesn’t even want to risk lumping them in with the Heat in their own city.

Maybe I’m over-estimating the shift here, I hope I’m wrong, but it feels like the Dolphins may have finally lost Miami. What do you think?

Is Miami still a Dolphins town?

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Tags: Basketball Miami Dolphins Miami Heat NBA NBA Finals NFL NFL Lockout Popularity

  • dodgeguy

    stick the heat up your crack! i’ll always be a DOLFAN!

  • Craig

    They both have a place in my heart, as do the Marlins, but the Dolphins rule the roost. I have to say though, I am SO excited to see Dirk throw another exercise bike…

  • JW

    You think this town’s excited about the Heat? Wait til you see So Fla when our beloved Fins finally get back to the Super Bowl! You certainly won’t be asking this question anymore.

  • marc christophe

    I think a sort of malaise has set in , stemming from the lack of stability in the management of the team coupled with lack of success on the field. Whatever else you might say about Joe Robbie, the ‘Fins had a trusted and stable management /coaching team for 20-odd years (but it began crumbling late in Shula’s reign , particularly our inability to get a competent defensive coordinator ). Under Shula, the Dolphins (deserved or not) also had a more “clean cut” image. As an aside (and this goes way back) I frankly believe that when the ‘Fins broadcasting was handled by WIOD and the old Weaver-Barrow team there was also a greater sense of community.
    Look, I am 60 and have been a fan since 1967. I began “tuning out” when the Dolphins and their radio flacks began pandering to the wise-guy, trash-talk crowd. This is no longer a team I enjoy following. I hate to say it, (actually, not really) but I find more excitement in the Detroit Red Wings.

  • Rick

    Shula was a great coach, but not enough credit was given to George Wilson, the first Dolphin coach. He had the team on the right track with good players when Shula came on the scene. I can’t remember a game 68 that we lost by more than seven points but we were 3 and ten even though we were in every game. When Shula got Griese, Warfield and Csonka, all the pieces were in place.

  • marc christophe

    I agree, except old George had his son at QB and, of course, gave us Rick Norton. I always thought that QB John Stofa never received enough credit, however. by the way, the key player that pushed Miami over the top (after losing the Super Bowl to Dallas in 71) was Marlin Briscoe. With the trio of Warfield, Briscoe and Twilley (and do not forget Jim Mandich) we had the best receiving corp in the league. (The “Marks Brothers” were only second best even though they were great.) Briscoe was the biggest “immediate impact” player in Dolphins history, but like many of the old timers is getting lost in the shuffle.

    • wayne phillips

      Alllrrrriiiggghtt Miami!!!

  • Dolphin Dell

    I don’t live in Miami and I have been a Dolphin fan for 41 years and I hate the Heat. GO PHINS!

    • Brian Miller

      You should go to our marlin briscoe page and listen to my interviews with him. Great guy to talk to.

  • Dolfan Diettrick

    Time to stop whining Ross. You owners think you entitled t to the money. You and you sissy managers couldn’t begin t to do what the players do, nor are you risking life and are limb as are the players. For you and those of your ilk,
    sit on the crapper and fall in then maybe we can flush the waste.

  • Ripp

    I don’t live in Miami as well but I do know people forget. Look at other historic franchises that were successful in the past and then they go through a decade or so of not winning and suddenly their fan count dwindles. How many fans are able to remember the last time Miami made it to a SB let alone winning one? I was only 3 the last time they won one and 13 the last time they went to one. If they don’t do something soon and the Heat keeps winning then our fins will be forgotten. Don’t forget it was not too long ago where this team had a hard time selling out games despite a playoff appearance.

  • kelly

    Look, we are a football town. Always have been, always will be. Does not mean we can’t enjoy the Heat or give them the headlines for awhile.

  • Rick

    Now is not a good time to be an NFL football fan. I used to go to the stadium but I am in my seventies now and wheelchair bound. I wait all week for the televised game though. Now with the owners locking out players and the fans becoming restless, they probably will not buy tickets as fast as last year. So I cannot go to the stadium any more and now the owners actions will cause blacked out games for the Dolphins. It just makes me sad.