Miami The Miami Heat has become the most hated team in America, and it might be this way for a long time. LeBron James turned from adored to abhorred overnight, apparently. “The fallout continues,” ESPN keeps telling me.
Isn’t it great?
Love this. I am dancing with delight — reveling in the misery of basketball America and all the haters out there.
Do I speak for all of Miami and South Florida? No. There are approximately nine people down here who used to live in Cleveland prior to escaping and feel a little bit bad. But other than those nine people I think I speak for everyone in saying the national vineyard of whine from all your sour grapes — it amuses us!
The LeBron jersey burnings, the outrage, the blatantly petty jealousy, these latest desperate, hopeless whispers of collusion and conspiracy, we toast the helplessness of others with our toes in the beach sand and an ocean breeze caressing our good fortune.
(Look! In the Zapruder film, isn’t that a grainy likeness of Pat Riley on the grassy knoll? He appears to be — to be tampering!)
I am delighted by the news of the past few days first because LeBron James coming to a sports columnist’s city is like a fat guy awakening to find an all-you-can-eat buffet has been built next door.
But mostly I am reacting to the comical disingenuousness of the complainers.
I mean juvenile Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland fans shouting “betrayal!” I mean Magic coach Stan Van Gundy mocking the whole process as a “parody.” I mean the Bulls’ Joakim Noah lampooning the new Heat as “Team Hollywood.” I mean Mavericks owner Mark Cuban beseeching the NBA to “examine” how the Heat was able to land all three of the summer’s top free agents.
I mean everybody out there who sees outrage or conspiracy in what Miami did.
Hypocrites, all of you. Mad because it wasn’t your team that struck the mother lode. Y’all wish you were Miami right now. Admit that, at least.
The smitten Cleveland Plain-Dealer fanned the ire Sunday with an analysis explaining that a “multi-year process” led to James, Wade and Bosh aligning. No duh.
These three players are friends who have talked among themselves for years about maybe playing together when each reached free agency concurrently. Unless our Constitution has been amended, I believe freedom of speech allows such conversation.
What so much of the rest of the country sees as underhanded, I see as refreshing.
Usually the billionaire owners, team presidents, head coaches and agents have control in steering this process. Here, the players seized the wheel.
Usually franchises rely on free agents following the money or their egos. Here, the players followed their friendship and their desire to win championships.
So much else about this has been silly.
That includes LeBron’s one-hour announcement special, Gilbert’s and Cleveland’s thoroughly unbecoming reaction, and, yes, Miami’s over-the-top welcome party at the arena Friday night. Oh, and let’s not forget Monday’s splendidly irrational ESPN SportsNation poll that asked who has damaged his reputation more — LeBron or Tiger Woods. (Anyone who answered LeBron should be Baker Act-ed).
Just about the only thing that hasn’t been ridiculous in all this is the simple rationale that led James to join two exceptional teammates and friends in a city where he’ll wear flip-flops to practice in December.
Meantime the supergroup Heat will be hated, and it will be delicious.
Said Wade: “We’re going to give Miami a show every night. And on the road every place is going to sell out when we come to town, so they can thank us now.”
Thanks won’t be what those crowd reactions will sound like all over the NBA. Something closer to resentment and disdain will pour down on the Heat on the road.
“Bring it on,” said Wade.