The 2011 NBA Finals are here, and only Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks stand between the Miami Heat and an NBA Championship. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and even Chris Bosh have all delivered for Miami this spring, and more than ever, the Heat's dynasty dreams look primed to become reality. Which is why most of America's rooting for the Mavericks now more than ever.
That's the reality of the Miami Heat. They've shown this spring that they can be every bit as dominant as advertised, but even as they've gotten past the growing pains of the regular season, they haven't gotten any more likable. If anything, dominating's just made them more frustrating.
At least when Miami loses, we get to make jokes about LeBron's excuses, Eric Spoelsta's job security, Miami's apathetic fans, and Chris Bosh playing like Chris Bosh. When they win, it's just like... "Oh, well they won because they're really good. That makes sense. And this sucks."
Now, coming into the NBA Finals, it's hard to imagine Miami losing. True, the Mavericks have been fantastic all playoffs long, and to be fair, nobody gave them a shot against Portland in the first round or L.A. in the second round. Betting against Dirk has become a dangerous proposition, and if there's any team that feels more fated than the Heat in 2011, it's this Dallas team. But still.
Miami has so many weapons, and so many different lineups to throw at Dirk and the Mavs, it's hard to see them losing four games here. And yes, this is all a desperate attempt to jinx the Heat.
Watching them tear through the NBA Playoffs has been one, long exercise in acceptance. I don't know if I can handle a world where Miami dominates the next five years. This spring has been hard enough. It feels like watching the bad guys win, except the Heat have none of characteristics that make bad guys cool. These guys aren't outlaws; these guys are insecure, image-conscious, overhyped, and just talented enough to make everything else moot.
And if they win the NBA Title, then none of it matters. Which is fine. If they win it all, they've earned it, and they've played out of their minds the past few years. The rest of us haters have to suck it up. But with Miami on the doorstep of making history, here's one last reminder of why we're rooting against them. Or a hundred reminders, to be exact.
This began as a personal challenge. Just to see if it was possible to come up with 100 legitimate reasons to hate the Miami Heat. A lot of what follows has been noted elsewhere, but just for fun, I figured it'd be cool to put it all in one place. Without further ado, 100 Reasons to Hate the Heat...
100. Pat Riley is the creepy old guy at the bar, plotting ways to steal your girlfriend.
99. LeBron James wears number 6 because of Pat Riley, not to honor Michael Jordan.
98. Seriously. From Brian Windhorst at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
Riley really put the plan into action last November. During a Cavs visit to Miami, Riley arranged a get together with Michael Jordan and James. ... During the meeting, Riley talked to James about how more modern players should pay homage to Jordan. Riley always had led this effort, retiring Jordan's No. 23 in the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena even though Jordan never played in Miami.
97. The Miami Heat want us to believe that's all they talked about during that meeting.
96. After announcing he'd change his number from 23 to "honor Michael Jordan", LeBron came out and said everyone else should change their number, too. "I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon. .... I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I'm starting a petition, and I've got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it."
95. "If I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it." - LeBron James
94. Even before Riley began meddling with LeBron James, the 2011 Miami Heat began in Beijing, where the son of a billionaire was interning with Team USA:
The seeds were planted in the summer of 2006 after Bosh, James and Wade finished their third seasons. ... The three played together for the first time that summer in Japan at the World Championships. For the first week, they were sequestered without family or friends in Sapporo, Japan, in an attempt to build chemistry. But it wasn't just the players.
Working as an intern for Team USA and getting to know the players was Nick Arison, the son of Heat billionaire owner Micky Arison. Now, Nick Arison is a rising executive with the Heat. He was part of the team that recruited all three players this summer.
93. As if being the son of a billionaire NBA owner wasn't enough, this f'ing kid got to intern with the Dream Team. Because sometimes you need a reminder that life just isn't fair.
92. Two years later, in Beijing, they started planning for 2010 free agency. On its own, this is kind of awesome, actually. But leading up to free agency, LeBron James alternately teased Knicks fans, tortured Cleveland fans, was purposefully vague and mysterious, and said things like this...
91. "I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland. And I won’t stop until I get it." That was last April. In hindsight, that makes him a d**k.
90. A week before free agency: "[Chris] Bosh says he hasn't talked with other players yet about the plans for July 1, saying those discussions are only between his 'friends and family' and that most of the principal parties involved in free agency are 'keeping their secrets close.' He and Wade share the same agent, Chicago-based Henry Thomas, but added that he has not spoken to James about the looming process."
89. At the Miami Heat's free agency celebration. "During a rally for Miami Heat fans Friday night, Chris Bosh said he had been talking with new teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade about the moment for months."
88. The Miami Heat had a free agency celebration.
87. Just look at Chris Bosh in this photo.
86. LeBron: "Once the game starts, it's gon' be easy."
85: "But we also know you three came down here to win championships. Not one. Championships."
LeBron: "Not two... Not three... Not four... Not five... Not six... Not seven..."
The People Involved
Micky Arison, Owner
84. Owner Micky Arison inherited his father's cruise business at 30 years old. He inherited a basketball team, too, and decided to keep the team around, even though he "doesn't particularly love owning it."
83. When Miami won in 2006, Arison screamed in celebration, "Stay white, Miami!"
82. Arison is good friends with Mike Kryzewski, apparently.
81. Arison's the 91st richest guy in the world, he lives in Miami, and there's no trace of illicit activity or salacious scandals in his past. No affairs, no nasty divorce, nothing.
80. You're damn right we can hate him because he's boring. And he's friends with Coach K.
Pat Riley, Basketball's Gordon Gekko
78. Pat Riley pulled a LeBron before LeBron.
77. While still getting paid by the Knicks in 1995, within a week of his team getting bounced from the playoffs, he sent a letter to the Heat outlining salary demands and parameters for his new role as GM and coach of the Heat. He also demanded part ownership, homes bought by the Miami Heat, limousines to and from games, a daily per diem, and corporate credit cards.
76. Ten days later, he quit the Knicks by faxing his letter of resignation.
75. Pat Riley betrayed Jeff Van Gundy, his former apprentice in New York, and a guy who named one of his daughters after Riley. Once Van Gundy's Knicks started beating Riley's Heat, the friendship was over for good, and Riley took to the media to blast Van Gundy as out-of-control. Van Gundy kept it classy, though. "I learned a lot from him as a coach. I respect him greatly. His opinion has obviously changed of me. But that won't change my opinion of him."
74. Besides, all was forgiven when Riley promoted Jeff's brother to head coach in 2004.
73. It's not like he traded for Shaq and then forced Stan Van Gundy to retire. Oh, wait.
72. Yes, he stabbed both Van Gundy brothers in the back.
71. When the Heat won a title in 2006, he took the lion's share of credit for guiding them. When the Heat won 15 games the following season, Riley cited health concerns and left the team halfway through the year, leaving Dwyane Wade to waste away in basketball no-man's land.
70. Somehow, Pat Riley gets called out for none of this.
Chris Bosh, Power Forward, Eternal Diva
69. Explained going to Miami like so: "I mean, really it's all about being on TV at the end of the day"
68. Tweeted this to his followers while he was still playing for the Raptors:
67. He's been so soft on national television this year that he's called into question whether it's ever appropriate to call a player "soft". In other words, because Chris Bosh gave the "soft" label unprecedented relevance, he forced everyone to reconsider its hidden connotations.
66. "He wants to work, we wanna chill." - Bosh in November, on problems with Eric Spoelstra.
65. This photoshoot.
64. The only player Kevin Durant's ever publicly criticized.
63. He cried after a regular season loss.
62. "I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job." - Bosh after getting hurt vs. the Bulls.
61. He lied about getting married, for some reason.
60. He says he "played with people's emotions" during the summer of free agency.
59. This flop.
58. He's partially redeemed himself in these playoffs, which makes him harder to make fun of.
57. He still looks like a dinosaur.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard, Golden Boy
56. He's definitely the hardest Heat player to hate. Which makes him more hateable.
55. When the Heat lost on opening night, he sneered, "Sorry if everyone thought we were going to go 82-0."
54. Explained the Miami Heat's critics saying, "99% of your HATERS either owe you or don't know you! Tell them to rest in peace cause they are obviously dying to be you!" ... This prompted a number of people to ask, "Hey, when did Dwyane Wade become a douchebag?"
53. Took back-handed shots at his coaches when the Heat struggled earlier this year. "We have a great coaching staff; I'm sure they'll look at things and see how to utilize us a little better."
52. His Jordan commercials are f***ing terrible.
51. Never forget his Halloween costume this year.
LeBron James, Small Forward, Budding Global Icon
50. The big one, obviously: He was the greatest thing to ever happen to his home state's basketball team, and then he betrayed them in the most public way possible.
49. In high school, despite being injured and unable to play, he attended both Adidas and Nike camps so that he could give interviews to various media.
48. At the Adidas Camp, he gave interviews wearing a jersey that read "King James."
47. The jersey was a gift of Adidas, but when asked where it came from, he told reporters, "It was in my room when I got here. God gave it to me." (Via LeBron James: King Of The Court)
46. Years later, at his very own high school basketball camp, he got dunked on in a pickup game.
45. LeBron and his Nike reps ordered any video of the pickup game be confiscated.
44. After engineering a nationally televised spectacle where he told the world he would be "taking his talents to South Beach", LeBron explained his decision-making process, saying, "One thing you can't control is you never know." Do you have any idea what that means?
43. Also told Jim Gray, "I never wanted to leave Cleveland." ...As he was leaving Cleveland.
42. As the late, great Bill Hicks once said, "If anyone here is in advertising, kill yourself."
41. LeBron James and Maverick Carter clearly think of everything in advertising terms.
40. Exhibit A: from a 2009 profile.... "Me and Mav were talking the other day: We were saying, on June 17, during the NBA Finals, we hope the Lakers win, because Kobe sells shoes, and that helps basketball. That helps LeBron." - LeBron James
39. Exhibit B: Look at this branding!
38. Maverick Carter on The Decision: "You know what, we can raise a bunch of money for charity, so that no one will think LeBron is going to profit from this.'
36. LeBron, in 2006: "It’s also important to me to make the team I’m on now the best. I don’t want to go ring-chasing, as I call it; you know, going to a team that’s already pretty established and trying to win a ring with them. I want to stay with the Cavs and build a champion. And I feel like we’re on our way."
35. Created a power-point presentation and sold sponsorships to his birthday party.
34. Still reacts like this after every foul call:
33. After disappearing in Game 5 of last year's Celtics series, apologized for his performance by telling fans and reporters that he'd spoiled with so many other great performances.
32. Calls rapper Drake "family."
31. (Drake is so aggressively terrible, he probably deserves a list of his own.)
30. When the Cavs lost by 55 to the Lakers this year, LeBron poured salt in the wounds.
29. Openly lobbied for contraction in December. "Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league."
28. When he was criticized for the remarks, he explained, "That's crazy, because I had no idea what the word 'contraction' meant before I saw it on the Internet."
27. Used Chris Broussard to leak criticism of Miami's coach back in December.
26. Found time to criticize Oklahoma City's coach last week.
25. He's really, really, once-in-a-generation talented. And this spring, he's taken his game to another level. He's unstoppable on offense, and he can stop anyone on defense. TERRIBLE.
24. Do you have a Heat fan in your office? Chances are, you hate that person
23. Also, there seem to be ten times more Heat fans than there were last year. Hmm.
22. In Miami, the Heat fans show up late, and courtside seats are regularly empty.
21. They all worship Dan Le Batard for rants like this.
20. Only in Miami would you see Uggs courtside.
19. Videos like this exist:
18. The chants of "YES WE DID!" will make you want to commit homicide this summer.
17. Ditto for all this Heat fan, who's definitely whining about "Haterz" as we speak.
16. If they win, it's a mortal lock that DJ Khaled will spend the rest of his career reminding us. From ESPN: "Like me and my music, they are hustling and grinding," Khaled said. "LeBron is amazing. Dwyane is a great basketball player. They are getting it together. You can call me the LeBron or D-Wade of hip-hop music. I'm going to be courtside ready to celebrate. We're going to beat Boston, Los Angeles, New York. You'll see. All we do is win! Listennnnn!"
Hating The Heat, In General
15. Throughout the past year, they've inspired ESPN to sink to new depths of shamelessness. Even before the season began, ESPN created a special bureau to track Miami's every move. They called it The Heat Index. From the press release this past fall:
- breaking news surrounding the Miami Heat;
- coverage of every Heat game and team practice;
- constantly updated aggregation of all ESPN stories regarding the Heat;
- Chase for 72 – an automated, daily forecast of how many games the Heat will win including ESPN.com’s John Hollinger projecting the odds of the Heat matching the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins;
- Tracking the Big 3 – an automated tracking of how James, Wade and Bosh stack up against the best trios in NBA history;
- Heat Tweets – a module that collects tweets from Heat players and fans;
- complete video, podcast and story contributions from ESPN reporters Marc Stein, Chris Broussard, Chad Ford, Chris Sheridan, John Hollinger and Ric Bucher;
- Heat content from ESPN TV analysts;
- Hollinger Stats – automated applications featuring Hollinger’s analytics on the Heat team and players;
- Hollinger’s All-Time Power Rankings – a ranking pinning the Heat against the NBA’s all-time great teams;
- Triple-Double Tracker – a module tracking James’ progress towards averaging a triple-double for an entire season;
ALL BEFORE THEY PLAYED A SINGLE GAME.
14. The Heat superstars haven't chucked the deuce to Lil Wayne.
13. People are seriously comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan before he's even won a title.
12. The Heat's '06 championship remains one of the shadiest stories in NBA History.
11. Phil Collins' "In The Air Of The Night" and the most over-the-top intro video ever.
10. Dirk Nowitzki is impossible to root against, and zero stats experts predict the Mavs will win.
9. The Heat are a thousand times more interesting when they lose.
8. Titles aren't supposed to be won in free agency.
7. The Heat took away Scott Raab's credentials.
6. Come on, admit it. David Stern handing Mark Cuban the Larry O'Brien trophy would be a million times better than handing it to Pat Riley.
5. If Miami wins, imagine all the revisionist history from columnists around the country.
4. Miami's fans don't really deserve another title, do they?
3. If Miami wins a championship, it means that Pat Riley, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, ESPN, Jim Gray, Chris Bosh, D-Wade, Drake, DJ Khaled, and Dan Le Batard all get to scream "TOLD YA SO!"
2. It's not a matter of hating the Heat because they're good. Nobody hated the Lakers or Spurs this much. People hate the Miami Heat because of what they represent. Everything about the Heat feels contrived. How they came together, how they conduct themselves in interviews, how they act on the court. Even their fans seem to have shown up out of nowhere this year. So it's not just that they're good, but that them winning an NBA Championship will sort of validate everything that we listed above. Every underhanded move from Riley, every passive aggressive move from LeBron, all those bandwagon fans... If Miami wins, none of that matters. In the end, they'll all get the last laugh.
And most of all...
1. Hate the Miami Heat because at the end of the day, you can say whatever you want and it won't matter. They're the best team in basketball, LeBron's the best player, and they've proven it all spring long. You can hate the Heat for a lot of reasons, but today, I think I hate the Heat because deep down, in my heart of hearts, I know there's no way anyone's beating them this year.