MIAMI - For the past year, Angel Rosado cheered for what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were doing with the Miami Heat.
On Monday, the roles shifted.
When James and Wade tweeted their appreciation just past midnight Monday to fans who were camping out at Florida International with hopes of getting the best tickets to Saturday's South Florida All-Star Classic, it was Rosado they were talking about. The 23-year-old man and his wife were the very first to arrive at FIU to get in line, just over 16 hours before tickets actually went on sale.
"It's not just any exhibition game," Rosado said. "It's the biggest All-Star game in Miami since 1990. Since I was a kid, I always liked the Heat. It never got crazy until Dwyane Wade came in and I watching TV the other day and still can't believe we've got LeBron James on our team."
They'll be on separate teams Saturday at FIU, which figures to be the site of quite an NBA spectacle.
Tickets went on sale just before noon and were gone at 1:47 p.m., some fans frustrated that they were turned away, others simply thrilled to have a chance to see some of the game's top stars like Wade, James, former Toronto Raptors all-star Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Amare Stoudemire — all expected to attend.
"The whole thing was very unorganized," said Heat fan Mary Beth Wagoner, who spent several hours in one of the three ticket lines — some people were frustrated that certain lines were moving faster than others — before walking away with two general-admission passes. "But I was there to get two $50 tickets and that's what I got so I can't complain."
FIU's arena typically holds about 5,000 fans, although the capacity will not quite be that high on Saturday because of some construction projects. It wasn't immediately clear how many tickets were sold Monday. The $100 seats nearest the floor were gone in about 40 minutes, while the supply of $50 seats in the gym's upper levels were exhausted about an hour later.
"Man I love u all for the support," James wrote on Twitter.
Said Wade, retweeting a fan who wrote him a message while standing in line for tickets: "Respect and thanks for the love."
Proceeds from the game are going to the Mary's Court Foundation, which works closely with Chicago Public Schools and is named in honour of the late Mary Thomas — mother of FIU coach and Basketball Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas.
It's one of a series of exhibitions that have taken place during the NBA lockout. Having one in South Florida made sense on many levels, given both the enormous popularity of the Heat and the fact that many players have trained at FIU and the nearby University of Miami for much of the off-season.
"I promise you, I am going to be the first one through that door on Saturday night," said Aimee Davis, who skipped four college classes Monday and dragged a friend along so she could obtain four tickets — organizers limited purchases to two per person. "It's a lot of money, the $400, but I got great seats and I want to let our Heat guys know that we haven't forgotten about them. All the other guys there, this thing is going to be awesome."