Miami doesn't just have the best team in the NBA, it's also got the best fans.
A new survey released by the Brand Keys Sports Fan Loyalty Index ranks the Heat fanbase as the best in the league.
Brand Keys assesses professional sports teams by interviewing fans from every markets. They also use factors such as win-loss record, pure entertainment (how exciting the team's games are), authenticity (how well they play as a team), fan bonding (whether players are respected and admired) and history and tradition.
Given all these factors, it makes sense that the Heat would top the list. They finished this season with the best record in the NBA, their games are full of ridiculous lobs and crazy slam dunks, they have an excellent front office led by the legendary Pat Riley, and the Big Three are revered in Miami. What more could a fanbase ask for?
The Celtics and the Spurs have championships and big name players, but they're not flashy like the Heat. The Knicks and the Thunder have high-scoring stars and plenty of drama, but not championships. What Miami is lacking is history and tradition. The Celtics, Knicks and Lakers easily have the edge there.
Miami fans jumped from sixth in last year's poll to the top spot in 2013. After the Heat are the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Brooklyn Nets. The Charlotte Bobcats and the Sacramento Kings ranked last and second-to-last, respectively.
The Index was developed to "help professional sports team management identify what drives fan loyalty in their home and national markets, with insights that enable league and team management to identify areas, particularly the emotional ones, that need strategic brand coaching."
Interestingly, some of the teams with the best attendance records are absent from the top of this list. The Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks have drawn the most fans this year, but neither made the fan loyalty top 5.