The Miami Heat officially ended its NBA championship season on Monday with a street parade that winded through Miami's downtown streets and then later with a celebration rally where the players took turns thanking their fans.
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MIAMI-- The Miami Heat have officially ended its season on Monday with a massive championship parade and rally that was attended by thousands of fans.
Heat players took turns thanking a packed American Airlines Arena filled with fans wearing "white hot" shirts and cheering "Let's Go Heat."
Dwyane Wade hugged the championship trophy and echoed what players, coaches and many fans have said they felt after winning the NBA Finals last week.
"The joy this trophy has brought to all of us is amazing," Wade said to a cheering crowd.
The celebration came shortly after thousands showed up early to the streets of downtown Miami to attend a parade.
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Jesus Martinez was joined by his wife Lynn Martinez, and daughters Cheyenne, 8, and Esmeralda, 2. "This is better than summer camp," Cheyenne said.
Police closed Southwest Eighth Street at Southwest First Avenue about 10 a.m.
The parade began at Southwest Eighth and Southwest First Avenue, headed east and turned north onto Brickell Avenue. Attendees crossed the bridge that spans the Miami River, continued north on Biscayne Boulevard and took the party into the Heat's house, AmericanAirlinesArena.
The parade is to celebrate the Miami Heat's 2012 NBA Championship.
For many of the fans who showed up early, the parade is a culmination of two months of nervously watching their team do battle during the playoffs.
“As a fan, it was one of the grueling things I had to endure. The playoffs feel like they started a year ago,” said Hugo Mornelo, who sat with his family earlier today at the mouth of the parade. “Now it’s time to relax and celebrate.”
For Jonas Garcon, his wife Pamela and their two children -- 12-year old Keenan and 4-year-old Jada, the parade was a chance to celebrate and see their favorite basketball players up close.
"As a diehard Heat fan, you can understand the passion of the players and all the trials the team had to go through," said Garcon, who said he drove down to Miami from his Miramar home on Sunday to scout parade-watching locales and parking. "This whole thing has been a mountain climb and the team has brought so much joy to the city. With the economy in a downward spiral, this is something good. This is positive."
Added Keenan, "I can't wait to see LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the team. I'm going to experience them for the first time."
Staff writer Ira Winderman contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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