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NBA Finals: Go ahead and hate Heat, but respect them

May 27, 2011, 11:04 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Getty Images

LeBron James’ decision — and by extension LeBron himself — has become the most polarizing figure in the NBA.

That can be good for business. Heat game television ratings are through the roof — because half the people tune in to root against them. Not that ABC cares much, they just want you to tune in for the finals. But the Heat are celebrity basketball players now.

I’m not sure I get why all the LeBron hate. Because he dared go team up with other stars? As if Magic Johnson didn’t have Kareem and Worthy, or Larry Bird didn’t have Parish and McHale, as if Jordan didn’t have Pippen and a bevy of others.

Maybe it’s because LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade inverted the NBA power grid — they had the temerity to decide to team up of their own accord, rather than having some GM or rich owner do it for them? That doesn’t bother me, I like the players having more power, but maybe that’s it.

Maybe it’s that the way LeBron handled The Decision, because for some it was egotistical? It was. It left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. But if you’re going to pick your favorite sports stars based on them not having an ego you’re going to have about two to cheer. Across all sports.

Whatever the reason you hate them doesn’t really matter. Go ahead. Having heroes and villains and playing out the drama of sports through that lens is at the heart of being a fan. Arrange people in those categories however you wish. But you had better also do this:

Respect the Heat.

Because while it took most of a season they have figured it out. They have gone from playing next to each other to playing off each other. They are playing smart, good basketball. They are a team, and potentially a special one playing beautiful basketball.

Did you watch LeBron the distributor in Game 4 against the Bulls? He made smart decisions with the ball virtually ever time down. It felt like Magic at times. Did you watch him on defense shut down Derrick Rose at the end of games? Shutting down the opponents best was like Jordan. When the moment called for it, did you watch him drain three pointers? That felt like Bird.

Beyond LeBron, Bosh has figured out how to step up when the other two are defended well or have focused on other tasks, he has figured out how to mesh with them. Wade remains as good a penetrator as there is in the league, as good a leader as the league has now.

Now you see the Heat going to a LeBron and Wade pick and roll at key moments. You see Bosh working hard off the ball and slashing to the rim. You see them all trusting Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller (and even Mike Bibby). You see LeBron and Wade taking on rebounding when the Heat needed it after Game 1 against the Bulls.

You see a team. All three are versatile. All three can play at both ends of the floor. All three — and by extension the Heat — have evolved into a dangerous team. Not a collection of stars, but a team.

You don’t have to like that. But you have to respect it.

  1. trbowman - May 27, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    “Go ahead and hate Heat, but respect them.”

    Nah, I’ll pass.

  2. Basketball Artistry - May 27, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Great points you make. I don’t mind them taking their career decisions into their own hands rather than having someone else do it for them. Definitely have to be respected, they’re playing like champions.

  3. greggudah - May 28, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    Miami Heat played sloppy until the last few minutes! If the Bulls had kept up the momentum do you feel Miami would’ve pulled off a win?

    • bils293 - May 28, 2011 at 6:57 PM

      stop complaining..the heat closed out the game because they had another gear in them and hit big shots..the bulls got completely shut down in the last 3 minutes..the better team won the series and it only took them 5 games

      • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Exactly stop whining, there were close games but the series was not. 4-1.

  4. dgbk - May 28, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    Good write up, i just disagree with all 3 can play both ends. Bosh gets and needs a lot of help his D is better then it was but lets not go crazy.

    • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 12:53 AM

      I think that what the writer meant to write is the “all 3 certainly can blow it out their rear ends!”.

  5. redbear18 - May 28, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    I respect the heat for their hard work and talent, but I think if they win, they will send a message to all other superstars is that only superteams can win championships, causing them to join up in 5 or 6 big market teams and ruining basketball forever for all other fans. I would love for Lebron to win a ring, but not with Wade and Bosh. That will send out the wrong message to other players.

    • edweird0 - May 28, 2011 at 12:46 AM

      For some reason everyone seems to forget that its ALWAYS been like this. Its going to continue being like this. This is a superstar driven league so it will never be uncommon to have more than one on a select few teams. People talk about what they did as though they were the first to ever do it, which is just plain false. If your problem with them is how they (specifically LeBron) then thats one thing. But don’t hold against them something thats been around for a very long time. Just because they made the decision themselves instead of having some GM doesn’t make what they did any different.

    • edweird0 - May 28, 2011 at 12:49 AM

      Big market teams are ALWAYS going to have a bigger advantage over the rest of the league because they’re just that: a BIG MARKET team. Parity is only going to do so much.

      • randommofo - May 28, 2011 at 12:55 AM

        you realize that Minnesota is a bigger market than Miami, right ?

      • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 3:02 AM

        rando… don’t confuse the boy with the facts!

      • anythingbutyanks - May 30, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Actually, Miami city is larger than Minneapolis or St. Paul (not combined, but it is still the largest city), and the Miami metro area has a total population of 5.564 million, compared to 3.280 million for Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. So actually, randommofo and purdueman… Miami is a bigger market.

      • Scott - May 31, 2011 at 9:16 AM

        When you mention a market, it is not based on city size. Miami is a bit different due to the coast, people include cities such as West Palm Beach and even further north as part of the market when it really is not part of the Miami market.

      • purdueman - May 31, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        Scott: Excellent post! It’s so true too! In the case of so many Heat fans, they’re all puffing up their chests about South Beach (even though the ones puffing up their chests seldom, if ever, spend any time or money there), and how big the Miami metropolitan area is when compared to other markets.

        One of the funniest posts that I’ve read for example right here on this forum was a Heat Honk stating that top free agents would rather come to a big market like Miami than Chicago! (bwahahaha! doesn’t say much for the IQ of some Heat fans, does it!). So we’ll just have to all endure as Heat Honks claim that the Miami metropolitan area spans all the way from Havana to West Palm Beach I’m afraid.

    • jordinh - May 28, 2011 at 2:23 AM

      redbear18, i couldnt agree more. i never knew how to phrase it until i read you post. I DO want to see LBJ win it, just not with the big 3. I dont respect Boston championship for this reason (Pierce, KG, Allen).
      I think the league needs to approve Free Agencies for this very reason. For example, as a free agent you should re required to submit all your offers. If what you are taking is significantly less than the top 2 offers, they should reject the contract. LBJ took $30 mil less that what he could have gotten and loaded the Heat with talent. This never happened before Celtics did it, and now Heat is making this virtually a norm for others to follow. Its bad for the fans.

      • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 2:49 AM

        LBJ? Oh… that’s right… Long Blow Job!

    • dirtyassfish - May 28, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      I dont know where you live redbear but I think they should have a choice to choose who & where they play. That would be like Mcdonalds saying you have to move to Cleveland to work.

      • davidly - May 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        McDonalds in Cleveland is hiring!? Can you get me an interview? I could be there in two days.

  6. purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Take a look at the picture adjacent to this article and what do you see? A TEAM celebrating winning an NBA semi-finals series? Or three totally self-absorbed individuals celebrating and totally ignoring their teammates?

    This kind of a photo just reinforces the bad feelings that many of us still harbor as to how it all came to pass, with the biggest self-centered creep of them all, Greaser Riley, being the puppet-master. And Heat fans you actually wonder why so many people all across the country hate your team???

    • addictedzone - May 30, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      A picture “is” worth a thousand words, the problem is your choice of words is totally wrong. I have no idea when that picture was taken but it wasn’t in Game 5 of the Semifinals. In Game 5 the Heat wore red jerseys.

      • purdueman - May 31, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Tell that to the writer who wrote the blog; doesn’t change my point one bit though. Any picture of the big three clowns omitting their teammates is proof enough for me!

    • Scott - May 31, 2011 at 10:23 AM

      The funny thing Purdueman is that Heat fans really don’t care about your bad feelings. Call them self absorbed all you want, but the truth is LeBron took less money to sign with Miami. Wade, Bosh and LBJ made sure there was enough money to keep Udonis Haslem. So far, in the playoffs they have played great team basketball.

      Don’t fault a guy (LBJ) for wanting to play with two other top 10 players. He had the opportunity and he took it. Are you cursing Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett?

      What did Pat Riley ever do to you? I bet he’s not at home reading this saying that Jackass Purdueman. He’s a self-centered creep.

      Get over yourself.

      • purdueman - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM

        The funny thing about Scotty is that neither Mavs fans or Heat fans care about his opinions on anything, much less the teams they root for. He needs to get over himself. I bet too that greaser Pat Riley isn’t at home reading Scotty’s rants and name calling either. He’s a self-centered creep!

        Unfortunately it doesn’t take much of a man to call people out from the anonymousness of the internet now, does it? Scotty needs to get a life!

  7. jordinh - May 28, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    I like the players individually, dont like the Heat as a team. I did tune in previous rounds to root against them. It is a strange feeling. LBJ was one of my favorite players before. I just hate the whole conspiracy between the big 3 to take less money and play together. LBJ certainly didnt need the extra $30 million he could have gotten, he was already worth $300 mil. But its very unfair for other teams because this was not what free agency and lottery was designed to do. The money and lottery was suppose to spread the talent across the teams. Now we got one really stacked team. I think they will always make at least the conference finals for the next 10 years. LBJ cheated the system to get a ring. I just cant respect that as a fan. If he stayed with the Heat and waited for the right Robin to come along, it would have been 10 times more respectful.

    • trueballs - May 28, 2011 at 2:31 AM

      you mean if he stayed with Cleveland..but yes I get your point. Guess what. The right “Robin” was not going to come anytime soon. The simple fact is that almost every free agent last summer wanted to be in a bigger market or at least a bigger city and I don’t blame them. Cleveland did not have the cap space to sign another big player and not many big players wanted to go to cleveland in a trade.

      • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        true… son, you need to go do your homework. Even Minneapolis is a bigger market than Miami and the Chicago market size could swallow the Miami market size whole two or three times over.

        You are right about marque players not wanting to get stuck playing in the obscurity of small market Cleveland. I’ve spent a lot of time in Cleveland and think it’s a great town, but it’s pretty much off the radar as far as the networks are concerned.

    • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 1:07 PM

      Cheated the system huh? Care to explain how he cheated??

  8. dwighthowardisamazing - May 28, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    i still hate the heat.

    • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 2:57 AM

      I hate the Heat too because of the stinking way they conduct business. If you want to kill a snake, you have to cut off its’ head; unfortunately greaser Riley has so much grease on his head even a sharp sword would simply slide right off!

      • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        I hate the Heat too waaaaaa…waaaaaaaa my team got knocked the f@ck out! waaaaaaa.. waaaaaaaa… why didn’t you come to my team LeBron????? waaaaaaaaa…. waaaaaaaaaaaa…

        LOL you guys are pathetic!

      • purdueman - May 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM

        With regards to southbeach, LOL!!! If his last post isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is!

        Someone called Riley a greaser… waaahhhhhh! Someone called Wade a punk… waaahhhhhh! Someone posted that they HATE my Heat… waaaahhhhhhh!

        If Dallas wins it all, look for southbeach to stay in hiding and not come out of his bedroom down in his Mom’s basement for several months or more, just like Steve Bartman did after he got embarrassed on that foul ball in game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field back in 2003!

  9. edcolton - May 28, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    James and Wade are superstars, Bosh is close yet they are undelfish team players encouraging the Haslems, Millers and Chalmers to play their best. The Heat are a TEAM effort and not a one man show.

    Cavaliers owner milked Lebron for all he could get. He would have been dried up in 3 more years there. The CAvaliers owner is a cheap loser. South Beach and Riley the winner. The 3 Amigos wanted Miller to sign and Haslem to stay. They all want t a title for themselves and people of Miami.They’ve worked hard and came together as a team. It’s a wonderful story.

    Had Lebron stayed in losertown Cleveland he would have been worn out and now he is having the time of his life. I encourage all great players to do the “Eli Manning thing” refuse to go to losers with owners who are not committed to win with lousy coaches. Look at Chargers-so close and yet so far away.

    Cleveland fans real losers as they let the greated player in the game today get away.

    Come on down to South Beach and relax!!! The weather and water is fine.

    Miami in 6. The will shut down all but Dirk but he can’t handle all the shooting.

  10. artbyrob - May 28, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    all the hating on a team for pure jealousy. every one of you saying that you dont respect the big three for coming together as a team are all full of shyt. if they came to your team then you would be there biggest fans. dont hate on them just cause they had the right to choose there own destiny and not leave to someone else, thats what free agency was for in all sports. to choose your own path. its funny how all fans and media kill an athlete for taking as much money as they can but when they take less for a chance at a ring they still get killed by jealous fans and media for not going to there team. do your self a favor and SHUT UP ALREADY

  11. danvoges - May 28, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    purdueman. you cant be serious. you really hate the heat that much that you post like 5 times on this article? did they do something to you personally?

  12. ledanielwade - May 28, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Characters like Purdueman and Philtration have their mind set. They play roles like Charles Barkley. The Haters. Like someone said before if any other city got these three players they would have not hated their own team for that. Secretly all the haters know the Heat are good as are the 4 semi-finalist. I personally like that these haters have to take time out of their day to come up with some type of excuse to bash the Heat. Thank you haters for the motivation.

    • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      I just hope for your sake that the Heat aren’t about to hit a big bump in the road, because you know what they say… the later you jumped on the old bandwagon, the closer you are towards the top of the heap on it, which means that your life may soon be in peril!

      The Bulls of course couldn’t have gotten these three players because they only had cap space and a spot to play for two of ‘em, but I can guarantee you one thing, and that’s that there’s no way Derrick Rose would have been the stooge for management that D-Wade was for Riley the greaser. Rose has way too much class for that!

    • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      Philtration has been MIA (pun intended). Still hurting from that comeback in game 5… I could only imagine him screaming at his TV.. I know your out there phil, don’t miss your boy LeBron today should be an epic series. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaa

      • purdueman - May 31, 2011 at 6:07 PM

        You flatter yourself way too much, southbeach… it’s not at all uncommon for fans to either lose interest or become ambivalent to ANY playoffs once their team has been eliminated. Case in point is the NCAA Final 4.

        The easiest championship ticket to get at face value (or below), in all of sports is the NCAA Championship game, because once two semi-finalists have been eliminated as their fans pour out of the stadium (NCAA Final 4′s are now all held in football stadiums), those fans quickly look to dump their final game tickets so that they could head home.

        I’m a HUGE MLB fan, but once it was determined that the Philies and Rangers would be in last years World Series I lost interest, as both of these teams I had little familiarity with. I’ll watch the NBA finals this year because I think it makes for great theatre, but even though I’d like to see Dallas win, it’s not going to really make much of a difference to me one way or the other.

  13. coltsfanindc - May 28, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    no one HAS to respect the Heat. we just want them to win. A Lot!!! And may it piss everyone off that hates them!! Go Heat!!!

  14. kilroy465 - May 28, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    How about the jag-offf on the Mav’s team who went and got the O’Brian trophy tattooed on his arm. He hasn’t won anything yet. Gonna look like an idiot, if they lose. Look, the fact is, they decided to play together. They decided to take less money, so the heat could bring or keep role players.They were unselfish. Everyone was wondering how the Big 3 and their Ego’s could co-exist. NBA Finals all the problems solved. They Mesh together very well and are playing like a team. Hate is you want to, but you got to repect them for their decision and dedication to each other.

  15. maximus1851 - May 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Jordan MADE everybody around him better. Lebron needs others to make him better. Big difference.

    • joker1million - May 30, 2011 at 10:18 AM

      Really?? How is Cleveland doing this year??

  16. jliburd - May 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    I don’t agree with your assessment of those other people meeting up with other stars. The Lakers drafted Cooper, Magic and Worthy. They developed with the Lakers and they acquired Kareem before all of those guys. The Celtics drafted Kevin McHale. There was no guarantee they would pan out. The Sonics drafted Pippen and then he was traded to the Bulls before he ever played a game. They didn’t acquire some 3x All-Star. With Pippen, Jordan still could not get past the Pistons and other teams. What did he do? He developed one of the best mid range jump shots ever I would say. He became one of the best post up players period. He became good enough to help him teams win. Lebron’s gamed hasn’t added many facets since he was drafted. His jump shot got better but for the most part your best bet is to play off him and let him shoot. I agree he’s a lockdown defender. But to just say simply Jordan got Pippen or Bird got McHale is not showing the picture. MJ added parts to his game, Lebron just added 2 multiple time all stars.

  17. sippindasyzurp - May 28, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Folks if you wanna make some money on this finals series, bet Lebron to win finals MVP he is around +125 to win and lets face it if the Heat win which i think they probably will you know the media will be all over the Lebron love fest the way he has performed throughout the playoffs, unless Lebron gets hurt there is no way he loses this award…. If you really dont think the heat will win you can get Dirk at +150 cause he is about the only one that would basically be possible to win it…. TAKE IT TO THE BANK!!

  18. sippindasyzurp - May 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    My bad if the MAVS win you can Dirk at +150 if you think the series will go that direction…

  19. davidly - May 28, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Man, this is hilarious. The Heat-haters have turned Heat fans into that “leave Brittany alone” guy.

  20. watchmorebaseball - May 28, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Hate the Heat? What have they done wrong? They want to have success, James acted foolishly in the way he made his move from Cleveland, But it’s not selfish to have the desire to win. Taking less money to do it is certainly not selfish. The Celtics bought success, teh Lakers have done it. Miami is doing the same thing, What is the alternative? Forcing star players to stay with the team that drafted them. That would be ridiculous. A contract has to be at least near as valuable as the one a player has chosen not to take? Nope. Aside from the draft, you can’t tell players where they’ll play.

  21. danvoges - May 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    haha davidly. i just dont understand the hate. i could see if wade, james, and bosh triple teamed purdueman’s girlfriend and got her pregnant. but all they did was become teammates…

    • davidly - May 28, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      It’s simple: Too much emotion invested in sports.

      But had two things been different:
      1) The Decision
      2) The catwalk/Miami victory parade/unveiling
      If the three had just hooked up without those two factors, most of the anti-Heat brigade would have just reacted with a yawn. The rest of them would probably be Heat fans.

      • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        davidly… terrific post! You said all that needs to be said, bro!

        I don’t have any issues whatsoever about Bosh though; Bosh strikes me as being just a follower and a quiet dude who was looking to escape the obscurity of Toronto and play on a winning team.

        D-Wade? Greaser Riley’s stooge/flunkie, and he shamelessly used his home town as leverage to get what greaser Riley wanted. The one valid thing that brings nationwide hate down on Le Bum is the fact that he comes off as being a narcissistic fool the way that he travels around with a posse and lets his agent run him around by his nose.

        I’d be surprised if “The Decision” was cooked up by Le Bum; it likely was a really stupid idea on the part of his agent and as Le Bum has showed time and time again, he’s too easily influenced by the posse that surrounds him. Derrick Rose NEVER in a million years would have agreed to do such a shameless thing.

        If Wade had a lot of class, he would have put his kids (who live in Chicago), ahead of staying in Miami for more or less the same money. I mean, only classless “No Tippin’” Pippin could piss away tens of millions of dollars and be reportedly broke already. Sure, Wade would have been welcome in Chicago with open arms, but I agree with the analysis Kerr/Miller/Albert made during the just concluded series that he’s also a player who’s peaked, has a lot of wear and tear on him and is on decline too.

        You either have class or you don’t; class is something that can be coached over time, but the fabric of the person is what usually dictates class and James and Wade IMO come up considerably short in that area (but not Bosh; Bosh has shown a lot of class since “The Decision”).

      • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        Only 4 games away from the REAL parade davidly then “all o’ y’all” will cry yourselves to sleep.

    • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      dan… that kind of a post you just made shows that you must be how old? 15? or perhaps 16? … I bet from your post that you’re either likely still a virgin or only can get laid by really fat chicks too!

      • southbeachtalent - May 31, 2011 at 9:18 AM

        Wow you sound 12 buddy…pathetic as usual..

      • purdueman - May 31, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        oooo… southbeach, I’m cut to the quick! (NOT!). Just the mere name you chose for your forum handle shows you’re a wannabe dufuss!

  22. coltsfanindc - May 28, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    hahahaha. now that’s funny…

    and we don’t care if u leave the heat alone or not. its just funny to us Heat fans how 3 basketball players control so much of yalls emotions. our team has consumed u losers!!! ur on EVERY Heat posts. now that’s power!!!

    • davidly - May 28, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      I couldn’t care less. I just like watching all o’ y’all scream at each other.

  23. alltimeballa - May 29, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    So, lets take this story out of the basketball forum and lets make it everyday life. So one of your friends has a job at a fortune 500 company, he contacts you and says they are hiring. The company you work for is a fortune 5000 company and you have hit the proverbial ceiling. If you take the job and get another one of your friends a job there as well, should we drive by your house and shout names at you? should the boss from the fortune 5000 company call you a quitter? If this does happen, do you really care? You don’t! Why? Because you made the best move for YOU! Stop hating a guy because he went to a better job with better workers for a better company. Some of you guys are stuck behind the way it happened. Others are not jealous but envious. Let me break that word down in case haters want to be educated…..jealous says, “I wish he played for our team” envy says, “I hate him because he plays for their team.” You didnt hate the heat prior to this year. The difference….guys with enough foresight to take their destinies into their own hands and take the job at the fortune 500 company. if anyone here really thinks that in Lebron and CB’s shoes you would have stayed in cleveland and toronto respectively, you probably also believe that its ok to be 30 and living in your moms basement.

  24. otisls - May 29, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    congratulations to the LeBron, Dwayne, and Chris for recognizing that NBA Champions (Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets) have utilized 2-3 allstars to form the core of their team and win multiple champpionships; go HEAT!

  25. coltsfanindc - May 29, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    wades kids live in Miami

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