It all started when LeBron James uttered that now infamous phrase "I'll be taking my talents to South Beach."
Since then all kinds of detractors have come out of the woodwork from coaches Stan Van Gundy and Phil Jackson to NBA analysts Charles Barkley and Jon Barry to former superstars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
The Heat have heard it all. They are now public enemy number one in the NBA. They are the New York Yankees of Basketball. The Evil Empire.
Yet, the Heat have taken all of this in stride. Here is why the Miami Heat will feed off of all the negative attention they have received this summer:
When LeBron James rationalized his decision to come to Miami, he explained that it was all about the rings. Miami, he explained, provided him the best opportunity to accomplish his career goals.
The detractors out there will certainly have more ammo to fire at LeBron if he is not successful immediately in his quest for titles. LeBron knows that if he doesn't win a ring immediately—he faces an offseason of even greater ridicule.
That ridicule will most likely start with...
As you are probably aware, the owner of LeBron's former team is not to pleased with the King. Gilbert publicly blasted LeBron after he made his decision questioning his loyalty and commitment to the team.
More importantly, Gilbert made one of the most outrageous proclamations of the offseason that the Cavs would win a championship before LeBron ever does. Since the Cavs look pretty weak this year, I think we know what Gilbert was inferring.
If LeBron does not win THIS season—he faces an entire offseason when some will be questioning whether Gilbert was actually right.
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh have always been "the guy." Many of the "Heat Haters" have commented that these players cannot coexist because each one needs to be the main guy.
None of the Miami Thrice sacrificed money (with a small exception of a couple million dollars for Dwyane Wade) to play together. In order to prove that they are team players focused only on winning, Wade, Bosh, and James as well, have to relinquish their roles as "the main guy."
A common question proposed by Heat detractors this summer was: "Who is going to take the last shot?" While some fans can laugh it off by saying there won't be a need for a last shot, the Heat know that they will need to work as a team to accomplish their lofty goals.
Throughout the whole process of the Miami Thrice's construction, there was one architect: Pat Riley. Riley had been planning this free agency coup for years, acquiring horrible contracts (a.k.a. Jermaine O'Neal) so that the Heat would be in position to have the most cap room of any team.
Additionally, Riley has been one of the most staunch defenders of his players. When Magic GM Otis Smith personally attacked Chris Bosh calling him "Dwayne Wade's Lapdog," Riley defended his newly acquired player immediately.
Riley is the architect, the man behind the curtain if you will. He is the creator of this roster. He is the defender of his players. When the games are actually played, it will be time for the Heat players to repay Riley's effort with wins.
With the attacks flying from all directions, the Heat players must feel that everyone is out to destroy them. Consequently, every player will feel that their only allies are the ones wearing the same Heat jersey.
When everyone is against the Heat, the players will unite and bond together with a mentality that they need to support each other in the face of overwhelming opposition. It is this kind of support that will encourage teamwork on the floor and camaraderie in the locker room.
Both Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson questioned LeBron's decision to join the Heat this summer as a lack of competitive spirit. Jordan and Johnson hinted that LeBron was less competitive because he joined Wade and Bosh rather than try to beat them.
You can bet that LeBron will be hustling harder than ever. He will feel the need to prove to doubters that he always gives his total effort (contrary to what many biased Cleveland fans say). It will not be enough simply to beat other teams.
LeBron's goal will be to crush his opposition with an unfathomable amount of energy and competitive spirit.
Phil Jackson is the most recent Heat detractor to make this argument, but he hasn't been the only one. A common anti-Heat reaction this summer has been that individually there is talent, but they can't possibly develop chemistry in their first year.
The Heat will want to prove how well they work together from the get-go. There will be tons of alley-oops, defensive help, and team offense. Focus in practice will be on developing chemistry not just between the Miami Thrice, but also amongst all the new additions to the retooled Miami roster.
There have been many projections on how what the Heat's final regular season record will be. The Heat players, however, have a different goal in mind: 82-0.
While obviously this goal is not realistic, Miami players know the unprecedented nature of the talent on this roster. They know that they are capable of shattering records. Miami will want to reach its potential, and right now that potential is to best Michael Jordan's 1995-1996 Bulls record of 72 wins.
Much of the reason that there is so much "Heat Hate" out there is because of the way Miami went about celebrating their new acquisitions. Between the now infamous "Decision" and the ridiculous welcome party in Miami which Charles Barkley called "a punk move," it seems like the Heat are celebrating without actually playing a game.
All of this celebration will be for naught if the Heat can't back it up on the court.
It sounds like a school yard rather than an NBA, but the Miami Heat came together partly because the players wanted to play with their friends. LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all became friends while playing in the Olympics.
Additionally, Wade took a paycut so that his buddy Udonis Haslem could sign for a little more albeit he still took a lot less than he could have gotten elsewhere. Mike Miller gets to play with his former Gator running mate Haslem.
Despite little experience in playing together, this roster is comprised of a bunch of friends. After all of the attacks this offseason, these friendships have grown stronger, and the chemistry will show on the court.