In essence, the Spurs fan base just grew tenfold.
One of the NBA's most intense fan bases is that of the "Heat haters." The Heat haters tend to get particularly active during the postseason as they desperately root for some team, any team, to knock the Heat out of the playoffs.
The Heat haters almost got their wish when the Indiana Pacers pushed them to the brink. However, the Heat somehow made it look like the series was never in question at all in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Heat haters generally have a few things in common. The main reason is that the Heat have somehow wronged them. From there it breaks down into a variety of reasons. Some are still mad about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh deciding to become the Big 3. Others are mad at more recent events, like the Heat eliminating their favorite team from the playoffs. For example, Pacers fans will likely give a strong showing of their Heat hatred during the Finals.
As a Heat fan, Heat haters personally annoy me. They don't annoy me simply because they hate the Heat. They annoy me because they hate the Heat for all the wrong reasons and mostly do it in an uneducated fashion. Here are some do's and dont's for hating on the Heat against the Spurs.
This is an argument that has been growing louder and louder in recent weeks.
Everywhere you look around the NBA somebody is accusing the Heat of dirty play, whether it be for flopping or physicality.
This argument came to a head when Chris "Birdman" Andersen seemingly decked Tyler Hansbrough (one of the more physical players in the NBA himself) for little to no reason.
Generally, when I hear this argument, I deflect it by saying that the Heat are no dirtier than any other NBA team. I usually point out, with a smirk on my face, that at least they don't pile up technicals like those whiny brats on the Thunder.
The Spurs have faced their own accusations of dirty play with Manu Ginobli being renowned for his flopping. For new found fans of the Spurs, this could be a good argument simply because there are easy to discuss points on both sides of it.
For me, as the Heat have quickly become more physical, I've learned to embrace it. Instead of cringing when a Heat player commits an unnecessary hard foul, I celebrate it. When Udonis Haslem faced off with David West late in the series I went nuts. Through the eyes of a Heat fan, it was impossible not to love that moment.
Instead of sounding like the typical uninformed Heat hater, do a little research into this point and you MIGHT gain a little credibility with the next Heat fan you get into an argument with at a bar. But, let's be honest, you probably won't.
Blaming the refs is a go to move for the uneducated sports fan, and yes, a lot of Heat haters are uneducated sports fans.
I can't even begin to count how many texts, tweets, statuses, etc. I saw that stated that the Heat only made the NBA Final's because of a NBA conspiracy that involved the refs.
Calls will be blown in this series. Some will go the Heat's way, and some will go the Spurs' way. There are very few games that are solely determined by the calls of the refs. If the only excuse a fan after their team loses is to blame the refs, then their team probably didn't play a very good game.
The idea that the NBA is controlling who makes the finals seems a bit absurd. If the NBA were in control of the finals, we'd all be watching the Los Angeles Lakers against the Miami Heat on Thursday night. Los Angeles and Miami are two huge markets with big name stars that everyone would watch regardless of who their favorite team is.
However, the Spurs are in the finals. Let's be honest, the Spurs are a boring team. They play fundamental basketball, and it's not particularly fun to watch.
There is no big conspiracy to make the Heat win, and saying that there is, will only help you lose whatever argument you're trying to make.
This is another one of those Heat hater arguments that makes no sense. If at this point in your life you still believe that LeBron James isn't clutch, then there is really no hope for you.
Have you not seen the statistics? James is the best Game 7 player in the history of the NBA playoffs. Yes, even better than that guy Michael Jordan. Is there really any better indication of clutch?
OK so that's a small sample size, but check out these statistics. Pretty insane when you get down to it.
If you're trying to be a knowledgeable Heat hater, saying that LeBron isn't clutch will get you nowhere.
You can call him a traitor. You can say that he couldn't win a ring without Wade and Bosh. But, in the end, none of that matters to James or anyone in the Heat fan base.
To sum it up, hating on LeBron out loud is not worth your time. Despite what you may believe, he's essentially a pretty good person who just so happens to be the world's best basketball player.
What makes this series even more exciting is that LeBron will be looking to punish the Spurs for what they did to him and the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals. Watch out.
This is the one that pains me the most to write about.
If you really want to piss off a Miami Heat fan, attack Birdman. He may be the newest member of the Heat, but the Miami Heat fan base loves him like he's played his entire career in Miami.
Birdman's signing essentially coincided with the Heat's insane winning streak. Birdman's flagrant foul in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals inspired the Heat to come back and win the game. Birdman's style of play changed how the Heat play basketball.
The intensity that Birdman plays the game with makes him easy to love. However, the same things that make him easy for a Heat to love are the same things that make him an easy target to hate for fans of other teams.
There's a lot to pick on Birdman for. His tattoos, checkered past, and occasional anger outbursts (watch this) make him come off as a thug.
While Birdman may be a thug, at least in terms of the NBA, Birdman is the Heat's thug and we love him for it. Making fun of Birdman is an easy way to anger a Heat fan, but don't pull any low blows. If you still think Birdman committed a crime involving in children, make sure to read this article.
Did you see all see what Justin Bieber did the other night?
He showed up in the Heat's home arena decked out in Heat gear. He did this after years of being a Los Angeles Lakers fan.
Well here's some news for anyone interested in following in the Bieber's footsteps.
Don't do it.
It's easy to pick out the haters who suddenly want to be a Heat fan. These sudden Heat fans tend to absolutely love LeBron James, not remember names like Eddie Jones or Voshon Lenard and fail to understand why Udonis Haslem is a fan favorite.
I respect Heat haters a lot more than someone who tries to jump on the bandwagon like Bieber.
I think, and hope, that most fans are past the point of trying to suddenly become a Heat fan. However, I also know that if the Heat go up in this series, there will suddenly be an influx of Heat haters turned Heat lovers.
With all that said, feel free to give me your best Heat trash talk on twitter @sportswriterguy.