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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: September 7, 12:16 PM ET
No. 31: Miami Heat

By Eddie Matz
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 44
Title track: 35
Ownership: 15
Coaching: 75
Players: 17
Fan relations: 14
Affordability: 58
Stadium experience: 50
Bang for the buck: 56

God bless Miami Heat fans. They pay more just to park ($35) than some NBA fans pay to watch the actual game. Their game-day program ($15) costs 250 percent more than the next cheapest league program, and their hot dog ($6) is twice as pricey as the league's most affordable frank. Add it all up and only the Knicks and Lakers have a higher game-day cost. Yet despite the persistent pocket pain, Heat fans ranked their team better than average (and 22 spots higher than last year) when it comes to affordability. Credit that to the value given them by owner Micky Arison, who foots the bill for the team's $82.6 million payroll (the league's third highest), and GM Pat Riley, who shared the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year award. As if winning a title and having a three-time MVP weren't enough, Riles recently reeled in Jesus and Sweet Lew via free agency. Combine those two with LBJ, CB4 and Flash, and that makes an astounding 35 combined All-Star appearances among Florida's Fab Five (not to mention a lot of really cool nicknames.) The only wish-list item that Riles hasn't given the people of Miami is a new coach to replace Erik Spoelstra, who continues to get mediocre approval ratings (coaching: 75) even though he A) boasts the ninth-best winning percentage in league history (minimum 300 games), and B) just won it all. God bless him too.