6 Reasons People Will Never Stop Hating the Miami Heat
There is nothing in the universe LeBron James and the Miami Heat (along with their fans) desire more fiercely than a championship (or two...or three...etc.) However, once they inevitably achieve that, a distant second on their wish list would be an end to all the criticism and ill will from the public.
There is a general consensus among the Heat and their supporters that the hatred aimed their way is not only unjust, but that it (hopefully) can't go on forever. Some critics will be silenced by winning a title, they maintain. Others will change their tune when the Heat can convince them they're really great guys who don't deserve the bad guy role. Most just need time to get over "The Decision," the Cleveland thing and the early championship party, beyond which they have no quarrels.
Unfortunately for Miami, there are a great many among its detractors who have much more nuanced reasons for not liking the Heat. They'll also be chagrined to know that no matter what they do, no matter how badly they want to be rid of the villain label, these reasons will not go away, and neither will their status as the Darth Vaders of sports.
These reasons are as follows...
1. Success Will Not Silence Everyone
The Heat—the Boy Wonder, especially—are completely defined by their all-consuming hunt for a title. Nothing else they do even matters anymore; they either win rings or go down as perhaps the greatest underachievers in NBA history.
They believe—as do their fans, and even some casual observers—that their title contention is the fountainhead of their every evaluation, good or bad. They believe the only thing critics have on them is their lack of a title, and conversely they believe winning one—regardless of how—will make them completely criticism-proof.
Unfortunately, they don't acknowledge other realities, such as their laughably low degree of difficulty, their glaring lack of intestinal fortitude and their insufferable attitude in the process. These are among the things that grate on Heat critics the most, and those have nothing to do with the team's championship status.
And besides, most of Miami's critics already understand that a title is inevitable; the way it's being done is what rubs them wrong. Proving the model works will only annoy these fans even more.
LeBron could win enough rings to fill a cereal bowl and never change this.
2. Fans Are Offended That They Expect Equal Credit for Less Work
Many fans will never get over the sheer insult to their intelligence that is Miami's title hopes.
LeBron's little personal saga in particular has shown that the Heat don't hold the (non-partisan) viewing public in very high regard. We're here, but our only ultimate purpose to the Heat is to shut up and deliver due credit once they manage to sack the Finals. In the meantime, we're an annoyance to be tolerated, the No. 1 antagonist in the Heat's little storybook.
The fans are nothing but vessels for glorification at this point, but they'll always have their place in the master plan, because what's the point of burning down the world if nobody's there to cower before you?
Also, the public is not to do too much thinking and is expected to look upon their painfully predictable domination of the league and hold it in the same regard as past greats who had it nowhere as easy. Our collective reasoning centers are evidently nothing but a fairy tale to them.
No matter how many challenges LeBron dodges on his way to his idea of success, he thinks he's just as worthy of your admiration as Oscar Robertson, MJ, Magic, Bird, West, and the list goes on. Some might say it betrays a marked disregard for the achievements of those that came before him.
3. Even If It Doesn't Work, They Still Tried
Very few people would be—I say "would" because I'm invoking an unlikely premise—placated or won over by this team failing every year. In other words, their dislike for this team doesn't exist solely as a function of its success.
In some alternate universe where Miami somehow fails to snag at least one ring in the coming years, its conclusive failure would not wash off its image as the biggest bullies in sports. For much the same reason a crime is still a crime if it's only attempted, the Heat will still be viewed as the guys who tried to make the NBA their personal playpen.
Even in another alternate universe where LeBron makes an inspiring return to Cleveland (yeah, right), it would be hard to look at him and not see the heartless, entitled narcissist he's made himself out to be.
4. Always Playing the Defiant Victim Role
As an avid Heat critic, allow me to share with you the most ridiculous pro-LeBron comment ever spoken to me. It goes something like...
"He didn't commit a crime, so why is he the most hated man in the world? There's real bad guys out there..."
However, I've developed a lovely little rebuttal in the same language...
"Michael Jordan didn't cure polio, either. There's real heroes out there, too."
The point? This is sports, not the real world. We make heroes out of athletes for what they do within the trivial realm of organized competition—a realm driven by its very own set of values—not for history's greatest exploits. Similarly, we revile LeBron for breaching the aforementioned values of the competitive world, not for committing genocide.
These two concepts don't cross, and I for one think it's mind-boggling that some people need this spelled out.
Note to anyone—yes, LeBron, especially you—who tries to paint the sporting public's harsh feedback as some kind of tale on human persecution and/or thinks of defiance as some kind of stand: You are guaranteeing that someone will always hate your guts.
5. It's Never Enough
The Heat aren't even done with the regular season, and they're already talking about adding another former MVP in Steve Nash to soften the ride even more for LeWade and Co. next season. The question on many people's minds is, at what point does the so-called greatest player on Earth have enough help that his legacy can be judged conclusively?
And how much is too much? Heat fans will tell you there's no such thing because trying harder with what they have now is simply not an option.
So in theory, if Pat Riley somehow convinced three more All-Stars they were rich enough to play for pennies, and the Heat finally won with LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Nash, Kevin Love and Josh Smith, this would be as heroic an achievement as any in some people's book.
Because, we're left to assume, merit is meaningless; a title is all that matters, no matter how it's acquired. Call me crazy, but wouldn't that make the NBA just about the only place where this logic holds true?
You can't go on forever without drawing the line between needing help, and needing all the help in the world. At what point does the ceiling start to drop on LeBron James' stature? The fact that LeBron's answer would likely be "never" makes him nearly impossible to root for.
6. Their Complete and Utter Disenginuity
In dealing with the media, when the Three Banditos aren't busy shoving their foots in their mouths, they can be heard making contrived, calculated (and often poorly executed) image repair statements disguised as candor.
Neither LeBron nor Chris Bosh have any qualms about making things up for the microphone. Whether it's openly lying about a team's chances of signing the former, or the latter lying about how long he had been planning the summer of 2010.
In Bosh's case, it's interesting he would cover up the truth even though there's no rule against collusion between players; it suggests he still knows there's something wrong with it in principle.
And of course, we have Team LeBron's tireless efforts to score the Boy Wonder some positive ink in an (ultimately futile) effort to fill the massive cracks in his image. Unfortunately, he's his own spokesperson.
Right from the TV special, LeBron's unwieldy juggling of all those handler-manufactured "right things to say" resulted in him directly contradicting himself, stating that he chose the Heat because he could win quickly and easily, only to turn around and say (in a Plaxico Burress-like misfire) that he thought the Heat would provide him the toughest challenge.
Countless other self-serving and painfully transparent comments have come out of Mouth Beach in the two years since, with the obvious intention of undoing all the ill will they've reaped so far. To many, this is just another case of LeBron and friends simply not taking the viewing public seriously—and for many among it, the feeling is mutual.