Buzz surrounding the NBA's Miami Heat hasn't always been celebrated outside of the famed city limits. Two championship rings and a few key players later, and suddenly, the animosity climate has seemed to slowly evolve.
Many different subplots can be credited for this new wave of exuberance surrounding the team, but for a closer look at why this phenomenon may be, we take a look at eight good reasons to start loving the Miami Heat:
Every sports era of the past has graced fans with the presence of a perennial figure who loomed larger than life. The irony in each of these men was that they all produced a rather abstract Jekyll and Hyde-type persona. One that allowed them to delight fans with a patented grin. Then turn around and place a dagger in the heart of an opponent to gain a win.
Many today would say Kobe Bryant is that guy. Reality says, despite having the "dagger in the heart" part down to a science, his calculating demeanor simply doesn't add up.
As we watch the accolades of James multiply and add his fan-friendly demeanor to it, there's no divisive factor strong enough to subtract the odds of him becoming that perennial figure to eventually carry the torch in this era. There lies reason No. 1 to love the Miami Heat.
Frequent injuries aside, the NBA has rarely seen a more dominantly defensive guard. Humble in nature, yet equally fierce in competition, Wade has been arguably the best combo guard of this era. Inconsistent play, at times, has hampered his overall success, but when measuring his greatness, one stat in particular provides a very simple answer to a very complex question.
Wade was chosen after both LeBron and Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 draft. But when given the chance to play for the gold, he was the only one capable of taking his entire veteran team and putting them on his back, pulling the curtains on a very dangerous opponent in the Dallas Mavericks.
The heroics of Wade single-handedly earned him and his team a title. LeBron is the best overall player in the league, but Wade proved to be the naturally more clutch player at the time. And although LeBron may be the head figure on the team, in fitting fashion, the No. 2 guy serves as a second reason to start loving the Miami Heat.
While most coaches around the league find themselves losing sleep trying to draw up plans to keep Wade and James out of the lanes, one player on the Heat team continues to fly under the radar while performing above the rim. Bosh has started this season on a hot shooting streak and continues to prove why he's arguably the most underrated player on the squad.
He doesn't get the spotlight as much as the others, but this "quiet storm" rages wild and remains untamed. When the pen hits the paper, it's the guy who wears No. 1 who stands behind reason No. 2 (Wade) as the third reason to love the Miami Heat.
Reggie Miller was a deadly assassin known to hit buckets from every corner of the court and beyond. In the history of the sport, there's only one man who has been able to reach that peak. That man is the sharpshooting Allen who has solidified his position as the greatest sharpshooter in the history of the sport.
Age 37 is far from young in basketball years. But this player, in addition to LeBron and company, creates an atmosphere that's hard not to love! Allen couldn't have picked a better number to wear than 34. After the "Big Three," he stands as reason No. 4 to love the Miami Heat.
With the exception of the center position, the Miami Heat have arguably more depth than any team in the league. In the backcourt both Chalmers and Coles continue to impress, navigating a team of veterans with the same maturity as veterans. At the shooting guard position behind Wade is the sharp-shooting Ray Allen.
At the forward position behind James and Shane Battier, you have Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones. Each of these men can rebound, shoot and defend. Health is the only obstacle great enough to prevent the progress of a unit this deep behind an All-Star-developed front line. Here lies reason No. 5 to love the Miami Heat.
What do you get when you cast three perennial All-Stars on the court in the same uniform? The No. 1 offense in the NBA. The Miami Heat rank one team shy of falling dead last in the rebound category, but when you score such a large percentage of times that you actually touch the ball, the need for a rebound probably isn't quite as strong—or so some may be inclined to think!
Despite the greatness of this team, offensive prowess remains their ultimate calling card. Once upon a time, NBA fans had to question whether the Miami Heat were the "rose" or the "thorn"? Roses look great,but are known to wilt under pressure. Thorns cut deep in either setting.
At one point, they may have been a little soft, declaring good looks yet unable to withstand pressure. Today, this team has a collective swagger that allows them to cut deep to the heart of the matter. There lies reason No. 6 to love the Miami Heat.
On the surface, it's the "Big Three" who get all the credit for the Miami Heat. But at 10,000 feet from the wide angle in high definition, it's the "Godfather," Pat Riley, behind it all, who has to be viewed, as perhaps, the greatest asset to the franchise.
Even away from the bench, Riley remains one of the best minds in the history of the sport. It wasn't easy to assemble such an All-Star roster.
Motivation has never seen a better face than the parenthesized smile of Riley. His robust confidence which bleeds through the franchise was on full display years ago when asked by a reporter whether or not his team would get the job done in Dallas while holding on to a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals?
Riley responded in saying he "only bought one shirt, one suit, one tie." The rest was history, as Riley earned his seventh ring, five coming as a head coach. This feat put the "Godfather" in "Seventh Heaven," and subsequently, gives the average fence-straddling NBA fan a seventh reason to love the Miami Heat.
The Eighth Wonder
No answer in life comes without first having a question. The Miami Heat currently have all the right tools on paper, but paper burns! Does this team truly have the mettle to overcome all adversity and bring it all together?
Few have noted the fact that last year, they won the championship in a 66-game, lockout-shortened season. With a long road ahead, one can't help but wonder if egos, injury and/or drama will set in before they can ultimately set sail?
There's probably a million reasons to hate the Miami Heat. But when the ball goes up and players start to scatter, nothing else outside of these eight things will matter.
All questions raised will be answered between now and June. Shall Miami Heat fans pull out the brooms? It'll be interesting to watch. Stay tuned.