Kendrick Perkins, Michael Wilbon Blast Heat Fan Base for Late Arrival to Play-In Game

Kendrick Perkins speaks on ESPN's halftime show during the play-in game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls.
Kendrick Perkins speaks on ESPN's halftime show during the play-in game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. / ESPN

The Miami Heat hosted the Chicago Bulls in the conclusion to the Eastern Conference play-in tournament Friday night, but it certainly seemed like someone forgot to inform the home crowd of the tip-off time.

Several seats in Miami's Kaseya Center remained visibly empty when the game got underway and remained that way for much of the first half. Despite a playoff spot being on the line and the Heat's run to the NBA Finals in two of the last four seasons, the building wasn't full for the high-stakes contest.

Among those irked by the lack of a full house were ESPN's Kendrick Perkins and Michael Wilbon, both of whom chided Miami fans for their lack of support.

"I'm just a little disappointed in the fan base of the Miami Heat," Perkins said at halftime with the Heat leading 47–37. "It's too many open seats in there."

Wilbon quickly chimed in, "that's not a great fan base at all."

"It hasn't been," the Pardon the Interruption host continued. "They're frontrunners."

Perkins and Wilbon weren't the only ones to take notice of the lackluster attendance for the winner-take-all game. ESPN play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Ruocco referenced the late-arriving crowd in the second quarter, quipping that the seats had finally filled up.

With the Heat in line to claim the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, the team will hope that the fans will rally for the official start to the playoffs against the No. 1 Boston Celtics.


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Zach Koons

ZACH KOONS

Zach Koons is a programming editor at Sports Illustrated who also specializes in Formula One news and analysis. He started as a breaking news writer at SI before joining the programming team in 2023. Also a contributor to NBA and college sports coverage, Zach previously wrote for The Spun and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and currently hosts the Bleav in Northwestern podcast. Zach is a 2022 graduate of Northwestern University and lives in New York City.