L.A. Lakers vs. Miami Heat: Breaking Down Each Team's Villain Index

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

L.A. Lakers vs. Miami Heat: Breaking Down Each Team's Villain Index

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    The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are so good that they're bad.

    Both teams are stacked to the high heavens with ridiculously prolific talent that all but ensures each franchise will be playing well into next spring.

    And those who fall outside the Lakers' and Heat's circle of loyalty hate that. Plenty of people resent these two organizations for their stacked rosters; plenty of people consider such household-name-laden dockets to be villainous.

    But which is worse, Los Angeles or Miami? Which team is better suited to play the collective villain because their individual players provoke a stronger sense of hatred or general resentment? 

    With star-powered rosters like the Lakers' and Heat's, it's impossible not to make a bounty of enemies.

    However, as you travel down each team's depth chart, it becomes clear these two sources of outside animosity were not assembled equal; there is, in fact, a lesser of two evils.  

Point Guard

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    Could you really picture Steve Nash as a villain?

    Better yet, do Steve Blake or Chris Duhon strike you as villainous?

    Los Angeles has arguably the quietest point-guard corps in the entire league. Both Blake and Duhon are fixtures of silence, while Nash wreaks havoc on opposing defenses in the most humble and classy way possible.

    Miami is arguably in the same boat. Neither Mario Chalmers nor Norris Cole exude the traits—or exuberant play-stylings—of a maniacal foe.

    That said, the Heat have a confident point man in Chalmers, perhaps too confident. Chalmers recently stated in an interview with Bleacher Report's very own Peter Emerick that he was "in the front end of the top 10" point guards in the league.

    Ignoring the fact that the South Beach sun may be getting to Chalmers' head, that's the type of soundbite that Nash would never give. It's also the kind of sentiment that puts a target on your back.

    So congratulations, Mr. Chalmers, you've exited the realm of villain by association and given the rest of the league a reason to depict you as one in your own right.

    Villainous Advantage: Miami Heat

Shooting Guard

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    Prior to orchestrating 2010's free-agency coup, no one truly hated Dwyane Wade.

    But even now, aside from the occasional grudge match against head coach Erik Spoelstra and breaking Kobe Bryant's nose, Wade is hardly a blip on the villainous radar.

    Speaking of the Black Mamba, though, he's a different story.

    Bryant has been despised since before Wade was in the league. His penchant for hitting big shots, coupled with his loose cannon of a mouth and refusal to back down from confrontation, has put him at the forefront of the NBA's most well-known villains.

    Sure, one could argue that the addition of Ray Allen—who spurned the Celtics and took a pay cut to play with the Heat—gives Miami more villainous-like firepower at the 2 than the Lakers, but this is Bryant we're talking about.

    Somehow, he has managed to simultaneously become one of the most beloved and hated players of all time.

    And at this point, there's nothing Allen, Wade or even Mike MIller could do that would collectively exceed such a status.

    Villainous Advantage: Los Angeles Lakers

Small Forward

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    Hating on Metta World Peace has become a tradition, but crucifying LeBron James as a villain has developed into a religion.

    James isn't just one of the most despised players in the game today, but of all time.

    From the way he left Cleveland, to his bitter postgame interviews to his natural-born on-court charisma—James has given people plenty of reasons to detest him.

    So, while World Peace, Devin Ebanks and even Earl Clark cannot be considered the most admirable of trios, they don't even come close to generating the type of villainous hype that surrounds James on a daily basis.

    And while his past attitude hasn't helped his cause or reputation, James' villain-esque status comes with the prolific territory he is currently occupying. Not even the lower-key actions of Shane Battier, James Jones and the relatively silent Rashard Lewis can deescalate his villainous stature in the NBA's hierarchy. 

    "The Chosen One" is the pinnacle of physical fitness, the peak of athleticism, the paramount of greatness and, therefore, the epitome of villainy.

    Villainous Advantage: Miami Heat

Power Forward

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    It's almost impossible to consider Pau Gasol a villain.

    A man in need of a new haircut? Perhaps. A victim of the triangle offense's disappearance? Of course. 

    But a villain? Absolutely not.

    The same cannot said of Chris Bosh, though. 

    Though the power forward never really drives his audience to hate him—his public displays of emotion are, in fact, endearing—his departure from Toronto left many to question his talent as a player and his conduct as a person.

    Udonis Haslem is hardly everyone's favorite overrated big man, either, putting the Heat well ahead here.

    Gasol has made his fair share of enemies over the years, but he's considered more passive than anything else. And Antawn Jamison isn't about to come in and drastically change that reality, as even his volume-scoring doesn't provoke the type of animosity Bosh—and even Haslem—does.

    Villainous Advantage: Miami Heat


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    LeBron James, meet Dwight Howard, the fellow villain who took quite a lot of pressure off your back over the past year.

    Howard went from one of the most beloved behemoth's in the history of the NBA to one of the most widely hated players of all time.

    The way the big man carried himself during his final months in Orlando was nothing short of embarrassing. He could hardly make up his mind and helped drag out a process that had already been drawn out long enough.

    And while Robert Sacre doesn't seem like the villainous type, Howard's backup, Jordan Hill, is hardly a boy scout. He himself has a target on his back after run-ins with the law and his failure to live up to the lofty expectations that were set for him back in 2009.

    For Miami, though, it's a completely different outlook. How can you have a team consisting of any villainous centers when you don't have any centers to begin with?

    Okay, that's an exaggeration, but Joel Anthony barely speaks, Jordan Hamilton is a neophyte, and Dexter Pittman's cheap shot on Lance Stephenson doesn't quite stack up against the headaches Howard caused, the hearts of fans he broke and the repeated lies he spat.

    Hill's transgressions are merely the cherries atop the icing that is already on top of the cake.

    Villainous Advantage: Los Angeles Lakers