We Are Allowed To Hate The Miami Heat

06.13.11 5 years ago • 15 Comments

On Saturday, L.A. Times columnist and Around the Horn regular Bill Plaschke asked NBA fans, “How dare you? How dare you hate the Miami Heat?” The guy who regularly makes Woody Paige look intelligent shook his ham fist at the heavens and pondered for 1,000 words why sports fans could hate the Heat, and what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have done to deserve the scorn and ire of the majority of fans not living in Miami (or pretending they live there, for that matter). And even though Plaschke’s argument makes very little sense, uses poor franchise comparisons and contradicts itself, I thought the idea of this “hate” issue should finally be addressed.

Since “The Decision” aired on ESPN and from the day that James, Wade and Bosh were introduced in some sort of nightclub/man orgy celebration in Miami, it’s been a case of us and them. Us – the anti-Miami, the fans of so-called fairness, balance and order, those of us who despised the grandstanding and boasting before the season even began – against the idea that two superstars and Bosh could do something unprecedented to establish a dynasty and people should just be expected to love the Heat for that. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

To preface this argument and rant, there is plenty of hate in the world, and so much of it is misguided, ignorant and all-around despicable. To advocate any kind of hate is a slippery argument because it endorses the idea that we should dislike someone so much for a differing opinion, or in this case an opposing loyalty. However, unlike vitriol-inducing topics like politics and religion, sports are simple. At least they should be. I don’t like your team and you don’t like mine, but at the end of the day it’s just a sport and we’ve all got lives to get back to when they’re over. James touched on that after last night’s game, and he’s right.

That’s the main point that Plaschke, Dan Le Batard and other columnists miss when they preach to us that we’re not allowed to hate the Heat for no reason. I am allowed to hate the Miami Heat. You are allowed to hate the Miami Heat. Your father, mother, brother, sister, cousin, neighbor, dog, bird, imaginary friend – they are all allowed to hate the Miami Heat. We don’t ever have to justify it to anyone because that is our right as sports fans, so long as we recognize the distinction between where sports end and reality begins.

With that said, I’m offering a Declaration of Hate to put an end to this frivolous, troll-baiting idea once and for all. We hate one side because we love another, and when three grown men claim to be the best in the league join together and vow to win title after title, there will be hate, and there is not a thing that any player, coach, analyst or columnist can say to change that.

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The Basic Right to Hate

As the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers, among others, have shown us, success breeds contempt. For the Yankees, it’s the idea that an owner can spend whatever he wants to win a championship while fans of small market teams are forced to live on a prayer. The Lakers more recently provided an example of the idea that a star’s personal behavior (Someone please direct Plaschke’s attention to the summer of 2003 for his Lakers argument) could turn an entire league’s fans against that franchise.

At some point Wade, James and Bosh had to have realized that the fans of the other 29 NBA teams were not going to like them very much for their decision to team up. After all, the greatest source of a sports fan’s hate is that it’s not his team winning. Heat fans will point out that fans of other teams would take James in a heartbeat. Of course we would, we’re not morons. But that’s hypothetical, and this is reality. In reality, we hate the Miami Heat because our teams didn’t do what they did.

And for most people that is the only reason they should ever need when someone asks why they hate. Other than “Because I do”, of course.

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Screw Your Star Player(s)

Even if you think that it’s been long enough since “The Decision” aired and that people should forget it, some people won’t. Namely, fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t and they don’t have to. While most of us know that the blame can be spread a long way in James leaving Cleveland – specifically to owner Dan Gilbert – some Cavs fans will simply never forgive James. NBA fans with no tie to Cleveland other than they’ve watched the Cavs play may never forgive James because no free agency announcement has ever been handled so poorly, with James and Maverick Carter using the Boys and Girls Club as a shield and ultimately playing the race card.

Aside from the Decision, though, perhaps no other athlete in the modern era has been held under a microscope as much as James. Hell, Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in baseball, was busted for using steroids and lying about it, and he was forgiven in a matter of months. James, on the other hand, is dominant and exciting to watch play, but he just seems to mishandle every major thing that he does or says. He’s constantly digging himself a hole without ever stopping to say, “I’m only human.” It’s that expectation that we should adore him while he’s given us very little to adore that makes us hate him.

What goes for James in this discussion also goes for any other superstar face of a franchise. If fans don’t like the main man, they’re not going to like the team. James and the Heat, Bryant and the Lakers, Rodriguez and the Yankees, Tom Brady and the Patriots – they’re all hated by so many people, for various reasons obviously, but only one ultimately matters. We hate what we can’t have, and we hate what we don’t get.

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The Klu Klux Keyboards

It should be obvious that this isn’t a plea to condone the behavior of message board a**holes who clog up Yahoo! and CBS Sports articles with racist rants about black athletes. Those people deserve to spend their days doing power squats over a blowtorch, and their efforts are certainly counterproductive for the plight of the honest hater*. It’s tough to defend an argument against when racism can be thrown around as an accusation and quickly turn the tables, but it also doesn’t help when the people making the accusations use terrible examples.

For example, a common misconception of this year’s NBA Finals was that everyone suddenly loved the Mavericks, when it was actually just a case of “anyone but them” for James and the Heat. It could have been the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, or just about any other team aside from the Lakers and us haters would have pulled just as hard for them. So the implication, like Plaschke makes, was that this was a case of white vs. black, or Dirk vs. LeBron, which is unfortunate because it wasn’t, at least not to the intelligent mass that I’ve written this for.

Ironically, though, I have seen the argument that we shouldn’t cheer on Nowitzki because he’s German. I suppose if the argument is turned to one of nationalism and patriotism that makes it better? Again, I hate talking about racism because the path for mistakes is wide and bumpy. But I also hate that we’ve made it so easy for people to infect the great joys that we get from sports.

*Can we also please retire the word hater now? I’m so sick of hearing and using it.

(Via TMZ)

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I Hate Your Bandwagon

Let’s step away from the players and point the spotlight on the people who make it the easiest to hate any given sports franchise – the fans. In Miami’s case, the fanfare was downright head-scratching. Having grown up in South Florida, I can say firsthand with confidence that the Heat’s fan base is primarily bandwagon. That’s not to say that I don’t hold some of the team’s fans in high regard as intelligent and legit, but let’s call it what it is. And if you disagree with me I beg you to take a good look at that photo above, and ask Lil Wayne, AKA Miami’s biggest fan, how his evening was.

For further evidence, let’s look at the home crowd of Game 6 leaving with more than 2 minutes left in a game that the Heat were only losing by 7 at the time. Sure, you’re upset and disappointed that the guy who promised you 6 championships last summer was throwing the ball away from the basket like it was covered in anthrax, but you’ve paid a buttload for those tickets and you’re witnessing history. If you’re walking away from that, you’re not a fan of the game, you’re just a fan of convenience.

But like hatred, bandwagon fans are an inevitable side effect of success, and they breed more hatred because bandwagon fans locked into other teams are sad that they can’t become Heat fans, and the actual Heat fans hate them for latching on. And it’s all fine to enjoy this wonderful hate.

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