There is one theme that has been hammered home from the start of the finals by the national sports media: The Miami Heat are basically just a bunch of pampered, entitled, arrogant athletes that don't deserve a title to reward them for their disrespect for the game. The Dallas Mavericks are a group of hard-working, veteran players that care more about winning than showmanship.
This is the image of these two teams that the media has successfully sold to its readers. It is not an image that really stands up to close scrutiny since the Dallas Mavericks have been guilty of the exact same behaviors that the national media is constantly accusing the Heat of engaging in.
But with the Mavericks, the sympathetic "heroes" of this series, the media is less willing to present the players from the Lone Star state in any other light but the Lone Rangers in the movie attempting to save the beloved title from the clutches of the evil travelers in black.
Early on in Game 3 of the NBA Finals when Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson nailed a three-pointer in the first quarter to give the Mavs a five-point lead. He demonstratively posed, waved his hands in the air and acted like he just hit the series-winner in a Game 7.
Just one game after the media blasted Miami for "overly celebrating" after taking a 15-point lead before losing the game and the momentum to the Mavs, they turned a blind eye to this show of excitement following a made hoop.
But the hypocrisy hardly ends there.
Right after the Mavs stole Game 2 of the NBA Finals, team owner Mark Cuban told the media, "At last, I'm going to win an NBA title!"
It was a wildly presumptuous statement, almost as much as his triumphant "we ain't done yet" after winning the Western Conference Finals. However, it was Cuban that said it instead of Heat front office stalwarts Pat Riley or Mickey Arison, so all is fine in the eyes of the national media, as they once again weed out the soundbites that don't benefit their constant "Miami Heat are jerks" narrative.
Perhaps the biggest recipient in the media's blatant double-standard is Jason Terry. If any Miami Heat player did or said half of the ridiculous things he has been guilty of over the past week the media would have hour-long segments just to convene panel discussions about their behavior.
First, he shows off a "championship trophy" tattoo for all to see as a "motivational tactic." Didn't the media just spend seven months bashing Miami for its "championship celebration" before the team actually won one? Wasn't that type of "showy, congratulatory behavior" part of what made them such bad guys?
So "championship-esque" preseason, welcome celebrations are bad, but getting championship trophy tattoos and owners proclaiming "I'm going to win a title" are not presumptuous at all, I suppose.
Terry also unwisely took the bait when the media asked if his team were motivated to comeback and win game two because of the Heat's premature "celebration." He agreed and said that his team was inspired to turn the game around when the Heat started celebrating "in front of the Mavs bench."
For a player who feels the need to wave his arms like an actual "Jet" whenever he makes a perimeter shot whether he's in front of the opposing team's bench is seriously going to claim offense at the Heat's antics is hypocrisy to the extreme.
But what is more galling is the way that the media had already written the story before it did any reporting. The media already believed that the Mavs players were inspired by the Heat's celebration, it just needed a quote or two to backup their opinion.
Real journalist search out information first and then present the story based on the preponderance of the evidence presented. The current media climate surrounding the Heat is to proclaim them the villains at all costs and ignore the behavior of the other side.
Is this what we want from our sports writers? To create a narrative they want us to follow rather than giving us the facts unfiltered?
Terry also felt the need to call out LeBron James after Game 3, saying that he didn't feel as though James could keep up that defensive effort over the course of seven games.
So, let's see if I get this straight: Jason Terry, a player that is coming off the bench, a player that is averaging 14.3 PPG on 36 percent shooting, feels the need to call out the best defensive player in the series about his defense. If it was a Miami Heat player displaying such arrogance, one can be sure it would have a "gate" suffix. But since it is a Dallas Mavericks player, it's OK.
Obviously the media is catering to a national sentiment about the Miami Heat. There are plenty of people whose dislike for James runs deep and simply can't stomach the idea of seeing him win a title, and everything that the Heat do is amplified. But does it have to be so black-and-white with its narrative?
As a Heat fan, I can't speak for the Heat haters, but even if I did dislike a team (I'm not particularly fond of the Lakers whose "any year we don't win a title is a bad year" sense of entitlement also goes ignored by the media) I would feel that the sportswriters have a responsibility to do a well-rounded assessment of each team rather than feeding me soundbites and telling me to hate the Miami Heat for doing some of the same things the Mavericks are guilty of doing.
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