What a year to be a Miami Heat fan. First, the excitement of the formation of the Big Three. Then the season of growth. Then the post season discovery of a decent rotation, and then, finally, a trip to the NBA Finals.
The Heat fans already have to deal with the "Heat Haters"... people who think that the NBA is giving the Heat games based on the amount of free throws attempted, which, if you understand basketball, happens when you have two of the best drivers in the world on your team, and they have to deal with the idea of the guys "cheating" by coming together (didn't hear that much about the Celtics, but whatever).
However, there is an even more scummy side to the magic of this season. A terrible underbelly that affects sports of all kinds...the bandwagoners.
Now, there is nothing wrong with "becoming" a fan by following a team. There is nothing wrong with following a team with interest because you like they players... but there is a problem with the in your face, purchasing every K-Mart special Heat item to make you look like a fan... the over aggressive and vocal bandwagoners.
It is inevitable. A team gets a superstar core together, and suddenly, the fan base expands by leaps and bounds with people who have the desire to hitch a ride with a closer bet. These bandwagon fans act like Vegas gamblers, putting all their chips in with a team that has the best chance of survival, giving them a rooting interest once the Finals come around.
What does it mean for people who are actually lovers of their team?
I have been raised a Miami Sports fan. My father was born in Tampa, and you either loved the Miami Dolphins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At that point, it was an easy choice.
He grew up a Dolphins fan. However, when the Miami Heat came into existence in 1988, he started rooting for the newest member of the Miami sports community, the Miami Heat. He passed it on to me, and I have been following them ever since.
Why? The automatic "you're a bandwagon fan" argument for every sporting discussion in the world.
One of the most fun and engaging things about sports is arguing your opinions and talking a little trash. But you can't when the entire world automatically assumes you are on board for just this one magic season.
Also, bandwagon fans annoy the real fans. When you try to talk about the history of Miami, they have no clue what you are talking about.
An excerpt from a real discussion I had earlier in the year:
"It would be nice if Miami had a center. Imagine if Rony Seikaly was still around?"
I know most of the hate for Miami Heat bandwagon fans come from other teams, but do us Heat fans a favor, band wagoners—go away.
Find your own team, and let us enjoy this ride.