Despite the shellacking they took over enabling LeBron James by airing The Decision, ESPN, the masters of subtlety, have taken it upon themselves to redefine the word "overkill."
Beginning on October 11, ESPN.com/NBA will feature a special section devoted to all things Miami Heat.
No regular team page, "The Heat Index" will have its own dedicated staff of scribes churning out scintillating editorial content, video and audio modules, photo galleries, and several social media elements that will allow all of us to follow every move and utterance of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and any of their teammates lucky enough to be near them at the time.
The writing staff includes newly hired Brian Windhorst and Michael Wallace, along with Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop, and Sebastian Martinez-Christensen, formerly of ESPNDesportes.com.
Windhorst, who came to national prominence as the Cavaliers beat writer for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, is considered the world's greatest living authority on LeBron James. Windhorst's entire career has been spent covering LeBron James, but you have to wonder how much access James will grant him after some of the less than complimentary pieces Windhorst has written since The Decision.
Michael Wallace was hired away from the Miami Herald where he was the Heat's beat writer for the past three years.
Some of the great features that we can look forward to enjoying on "The Heat Index" include:
- Breaking news!
- Coverage of every Heat game and practice
- Real-time aggregation of all ESPN.com stories that mention the Heat
- A special "Heat Tweets" module that will collect the tweets made by Heat players
- A Heat Index Facebook page
- An automated application featuring John Hollinger’s analytics on the Heat team and players
- Photo galleries of Heat players and their brand-new celebrity fans
- A real-time GPS tracker to allow fans to follow LeBron's every move
Okay, I made that last one up, but the rest of it is straight from ESPN's Media Zone. You can see for yourself that I've only listed a portion of the great features of The Heat Index.
Look, I recognize that the teaming of these two-and-a-half superstars has created tremendous interest in the Miami Heat. The creation of the SuperFriends down in Miami is a fantastic boon to the business of the NBA, and all the league's partners are going to cash in. The Miami Heat will, without question, be one of the most watched teams in league history. I get all that.
Still, don't you think that "The Heat Index" takes things a little too far? Maybe I'm getting old, but I thought that ESPN's special section tracking LeBron's free agency was over the top. Now we're going to get a whole section charting, tracking, and recording every single ball bounced by a Heat player for the whole season?
The 2010-11 Miami Heat are already the favorites to win the title this year, despite having a freshly assembled team that has yet to take the floor together in a meaningful game. We already have the Heat dominating the story lines. We already have the Heat overshadowing the other 29 teams in the league. Do we really need something like "The Heat Index"?
Do we need for ESPN to create our history for us? Why not let the Heat actually do something before creating the "special Sports Illustrated commemorative package" for them. In creating something like "The Heat Index" and directing all NBA fans to that section if they want to read about one of the league's top teams, ESPN is telling us that the Heat are the most important team in the NBA. They are telling us that the Heat are the NBA.
Heat fans will almost certainly take this as Heat/LeBron bashing—it is not. It is ESPN bashing. Coronations before accomplishments tick me off. LeBron has won nothing, and we were all "Witnesses" to it. This version of the Miami Heat has won nothing, but we already have an ESPN application that will track their progress against the 72-win mark of the Chicago Bulls.
The yucky L.A. Lakers have won two championships in a row, have their entire core returning, and they upgraded their roster. Why no "Laker Lodge" replete with Arash Markazi covering the culture, scene and lifestyle angles tied to L.A. as it relates to the Lakers and the buzz surrounding the team (Jemele Hill will be doing exactly this on "The Heat Index")?
Why can't ESPN simply let this season play out? Maybe they should shelve "The Heat Index" until the Heat have won something.
I know the Heat Heads will probably enjoy "The Heat Index," but how about the rest of you—anyone else annoyed by this thing?