The general public should have little constraint when it comes to hating on the Miami Heat just as they should when it comes to hating the San Antonio Spurs, Real Madrid C.F., or the New York Rangers.
Why not? Rivalries and other sports antagonisms, within reason, come as natural as a Ray Allen stroke, a Walter Payton carry, or a Lionel Messi head-of-steam breakaway. Deciding to curb the disdain fans feel for a particular team or a player–however unsubstantiated and belligerent–isn’t the stuff of analytics; you can’t quantify good old fashioned hate mongering just like you can’t quantity “a love for the game” simply because it soon becomes a matter of policing emotions that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The Heat’s championships might have an asterisk now, according to some, but won’t in the annals of history.
SB Nation’s Tom Ziller has had enough of the Heat Hate—the “hate” gets a capital “H” because it’s certainly become its own meme. Like always, Ziller constructs some wonderful prose on the matter. His sentiment is understandable as the Heatles have long shed their controversial and privileged origins to become a team of respectable talent, strategy, and pedigree. They’ve won over many that they initially had soured just by winning, and winning well. But, yes, there’s still a national anti-Heat movement and it isn’t going anywhere. Nor should it.
Heat haters break down in the following ways:
1. Full-Fledged Trolls – People who just like jumping on the bandwagon of hate simply because it’s the 21st Century and industry has made it possible for them to have an inordinate amount of time to kill on such petty matters. Such is life, such is the internet.
2. Fools Made Insecure By LeBron – The Chosen One is still far from proving his appointed name but he’s on pace to be one of the all-time greats. He has already unseated guys like Kobe, Barkley, and Zeke and now he’s coming for Hakeem, Shaq, Duncan, Kareem, Oscar, Russell, Wilt, Bird, Magic, and MJ. People enamored with legacies are clutching at their pearls and they’re responding the only way they know how: with blind, insecure rage.
3. The Underdog Coalition – The Heat haven’t been the underdog until perhaps this upcoming NBA Finals. And even now, the case can be made for why a perhaps deeper Spurs squad remain the underdogs of the contest. People like rooting for underdogs, which, almost by their very nature, the Heat aren’t. Therefore, the Underdog Coalition like rooting against the Heat. At all costs!
4. Basketball Purists – This is made up of those who think that LeBron and Co. took the easy way out. That declaration is a bit oversimplified as the Heat have been under media microscopes the whole way through. Not to mention that they got trumped by a Dallas team that had no right to dominate them the way they did. Even when they beat the Spurs in seven games last year, the sentiment was that the Spurs lost the finals (which is true) and not the other way around. People like Jordan and Duncan earned their keep. But people also misremember history. Magic wouldn’t have won any hardware without some major, major free agency pickups. They were called the Showtime Lakers for more than just their on court flair.
5. People Tired Of Corporate Takeovers – Think about it: LeBron, Bosh, and Wade represented major points of capital, competitiveness, and corporate pull on their own, then they colluded to become a conglomerate of otherwordly capital, competitiveness and corporate pull. They did what actual corporations are doing all across the nation and world. They used their privileged status to become more privileged with no care for the little man, market competitiveness, or fairness. Sure, they’re allowed to do such things, and they did, but it doesn’t mean your standard American has to swallow it with grace. People are fed up with strings being pulled by people at the top for their own selfish gain, and perhaps unfairly so, the Heat represent that to a certain point.
To varying degrees, the anti-Heat nation have valid reasons for hating the team. Plus, even if they didn’t, sports isn’t an area where a little innocent bashing is going to bring about bigger societal ills. Sports are sometimes a way to forget those ills in the first place. So, just let people “hate” to their heart’s content. The Heat won’t be the poorer for it and maybe that’s exactly the problem.