Why I “Hate” The Miami Heat, et. al.
The quotes are intentional, because in reality I do not hate the team as much as I hate the following:
— What I have dubbed since July 2010 as “July 8th” Heat Fans
— LeBron James Sycophants who never see anything he does as wrong
— Dwyane Wade apologists who will attempt to excuse his blatant jerk actions over the past 5 years by mentioning his “charitable work” in the community
— The league-worst flopping antics by their Top 5 players (the scrubs, ironically, don’t flop. Oh.)
— The hype that the NBA, ESPN and hack “journalists” have drummed up over these guys since LeBron James’ “Decision” debacle back in July 2010
… AND MANY OTHER REASONS
Let’s get to the core of it all, shall we?
A lot of this is years in the making. Starting with LeBron James’ unprecedented hype via the media, ESPN, the NBA and its vendors and the brainwashing effort instituted by the NBA in order to create an entire generation of fans who will view LeBron James as not only better than Kobe Bryant (still isn’t, most likely never will be), but on par/better than Michael Jordan.
Stop and think about that for a moment.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports penned this article at the stroke of midnight last night/this morning: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AvBLeAinVbcE4504ouJNnBM5nYcB?slug=aw-wojnarowski_lebron_james_dwyane_wade_nba_finals_game6_061111
I’m not going to summarize it for you. GO READ IT. But nevertheless, he summarily backs a lot of the points I’ve made over the years about LeBron James and those affiliated with him. His image disgusts me, so do the people who “represent” and (mis)guide him continually. His marketing and Public Relations groups are hacks and should be applauded for nothing more than their ability to hustle, bamboozle and hoodwink millions upon millions of blind, casual NBA “fans”. All while pissing on the respective legs of the rest of us who know better and continuing to insist that it’s raining.
(Vintage Cam’ron ad-lib): “Oh.”
I’m sick and tired of people who only support LeBron James as a player (and overlook the things that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA swept under the rug to maintain the false pristine image that the NBA and his marketing execs had crafted for him upon entering the league in 2003) and hate it when those of us who have played, coached and officiated the game continue to point out that he’s never going to be better than Kobe Bryant. Only to have these same people call you “Kobe dickriders”. No, the fact remains, LeBron James is an otherworldly physical specimen — HGH (if I need to pull the pictures from 2009 when he had the typical growth that occurs from HGH overuse appear upon his jaw during the end of the 2008-2009 season, I dare you to argue this) induced as he is. Notice he’s lost 15-20 pounds since the removal of the growth and apparently backing off of his dosage (while current Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade now has the same growth on his jaw).
The NBA was rebounding from another nadir similar to the one it experienced in the late 1970s, when small-market teams that apparently no one cared about, were winning NBA Championships (Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Bullets, Seattle Super Sonics in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1979, respectively) and other small-market, obscure teams were playing perennial powerhouses in those Finals (Phoenix Suns, in 1976, the one year that a power team from a large market actually won a title — the Boston Celtics). Also, cocaine and other drug issues (See: Micheal Ray Richardson, the entire 1986 NBA Draft class, seemingly, etc.) were ravaging the league. Throw in rampant brawls during games from the mid-1970s until the late 1980s and the NBA would have folded without Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and the emergence, the NATURAL EMERGENCE (I’m going somewhere with this, stay with me) of Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan retired for a second time in 1998, following his second three-peat NBA Championship and six total NBA Titles with the Chicago Bulls (1991-1993, 1996-1998). Then-Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause, apparently someone who never excelled in sports past the recess days of 4th grade, became jealous of the success of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and coach Phil Jackson. For years, Krause (mandated by Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf) had been grossly underpaying each of these parties. For years, they each lobbied and later threatened to leave if Krause didn’t pay them market value (Michael Jordan was making what today’s “Mid-Level Exception” is to today’s “Max Contract” guys for YEARS until his unprecedented $30 million contracts late in his Bulls career — only given begrudgingly by Reinsdorf for fear of losing Jordan). The NBA bottomed out and viewership slid rapidly.
The Los Angeles Lakers, with Phil Jackson taking over at the helm prior to the 1999-2000 season, began a run of four NBA Finals appearances in five years, winning three straight, before losing the fourth to the Detroit Pistons in 2004 (direct parallels to the 2011 NBA Finals, by the way, if you’re paying attention to the “superstar” vs. “actual team” dynamic at play). The Lakers benefited from the fact that Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant physical force in the NBA and Kobe Bryant was just coming into his own and establishing himself as the erstwhile best player in the NBA at the time. The Lakers also — as I have no shame in saying — benefited from some of the most crooked officiating I have ever seen in my life in any sport and at any level. But for the NBA, this meant revenue and ratings, because they had Laker fans tuning in and showing up at Staples Center, but also people who hated the Lakers for various different reasons (O’Neal’s dominance and free reign to bull over people, only receiving charging calls about 25% of the time, Bryant’s cockiness — something that rubs people without self-confidence the wrong way, as is, and the Lakers’ obliteration of the rest of the NBA). This was gold. Painted, concocted gold, but still GOLD in the NBA’s mind.
Rewind to 1984.
The NBA was ushering in a new set of stars. Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, a shooting maven and an all-time great in every possible regard, Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers and their respective teammates made for riveting television every time they met in the NBA Finals during a six-year stretch between 1981 and 1987. Bird was unlike any other player who had ever played in the NBA — he shot lights out, called shots and made them afterward, shot 50% from the field, 40% from the 3 point line and 90% from the line — on TONS of attempts and was a bigger trash talker than most dudes who have ever stepped foot on hallowed Rucker Park ground. If you didn’t watch Bird play in his prime, I HOPE this gives you an idea of how nasty he was. I hated Bird, as a Knicks fan, but the man was great.
Same with Johnson. The Showtime Lakers electrified the NBA and its fans (even fans of other teams) during the entire 1980s, culminating with Johnson’s retirement due to contracting HIV in 1991. The league was safe in these two teams’ hands, as they represented major markets and won repeatedly (Boston in 1981, 1984, 1986 — Los Angeles in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988, along with two other appearances in the decade). However, this was not going to last forever and the NBA knew it. They were otherwise clueless about how to continue the success that the league had attained in the 1980s. Larry Bird was already 31 years of age upon the Celtics’ last Finals appearance in 1987, and with his teammates getting older along with him and breaking down (literally, Kevin McHale broke his foot in those 1987 Playoffs and was to never fully be the same afterward), the Celtics were finished for the next 20 years. Johnson led the Lakers to numerous appearances in the Finals clear until June 1991, five months prior to his HIV-induced retirement in November of that year.
Slowly afterward, bits and pieces of the Showtime Lakers fell by the wayside (aside from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s retirement in 1989 at age 42), James Worthy limped aside a couple of years later, and Byron Scott and Michael Cooper left town and retired, respectively. Ironman AC Green is probably still playing basketball someplace today, but he was the only true holdover from the team still playing during Jordan’s apogee.
Why do I say all of this, you ask? Because some of my readers only know what happened in the 1980s via NBA Classic and YouTube clips, other than hearsay. As someone who can remember back as far as Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas winning the National Title in 1984, and watched NBA so intently with my father that we VHS recorded enough games to fill two entertainment centers top to bottom in the 1980s ALONE.
In other words, (Chris Berman Voice) I WAS THAH!!! So were some OGs who are older than me and can vouch for everything I said.
So again, back to Jordan. He came out of North Carolina, with a limited game — he had freakish athletic ability, untold, really — only rivaled by David Thompson and Julius “Dr. J” Erving before him. But his dunks were dazzling and his swagger, which was immediately apparent in his first two weeks in the NBA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WnIbSr5kRQ. Making ALL-WORLD New York City legend Bernard King look foolish all night. This is the same pre-knee injury Bernard King who lit up the league with multiple 50 point games, including a legendary performance in the 1984 NBA Playoffs vs. Detroit earlier in 1984.
The league did not like Jordan wearing his own brand of shoes and disregarding the colors and types of socks that the NBA had previously mandated. He wore his Air Jordan I sneakers with pride, and his defiance led to his sneakers becoming a symbol of a rebellious generation of youth, swagger and confidence rarely seen in the history in the NBA. Once the NBA realized that Jordan would not break his contract with Nike and cease wearing his sneakers, they saw this, plus his dazzling scoring records (culminating with a 37.1 PPG scoring record in his 4th year in 1987-88) as a marketing opportunity. The NBA didn’t plan it this way. The opportunity fell into their laps. Bird and Magic were carrying the league. Jordan was viewed as another David Thompson and only POSSIBLY having Erving’s potential down the line. He was not regarded in the way he was in the 1990s and post-career in the early-mid 1980s, trust me.
Winning NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Titles and continuing to embarrass teams throughout the league made Jordan much more marketable, but this is the key difference between Jordan and LeBron James: media, NBA marketing (Commissioner David J. Stern began his tenure just as Jordan entered the NBA, as an aside) and overall coverage of the NBA was JUST beginning to take off, and Jordan, along with anyone in any sport, entertainment industry (music, movies, TV) benefited from the advancements in new media at the time. Before the early 1980s, most games were not televised outside of the markets in which they were played. Players were not promoted with the publicity that they receive now. You had to be a die-hard fan of a particular team in order to truly know of the exploits of most of these players. Even the superstars.
Jordan’s influence on basketball is indelible. Everyone is compared to him to this day, being the Gold Standard for which all NBA players much reach for, even if they never surpass it. To this day, only Kobe Bryant has even come close, and he’s still a full strata below Jordan, when you factor in the ruthlessness that Jordan not only played the game of basketball, but LIVED HIS LIFE. No one can get away with that in today’s time, because the things Jordan did to maintain that megalomania would have come under such scrutiny today that he might have been suspended from the league for some of the things he did behind the scenes to teammates and what he had done off the court in various situations.
LeBron James took the world by storm in 2002, with his same never-before-seen combination of physical stature and all-around basketball skills. He was seen by basketball purists as a raw talent, but the potential to become Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird all wrapped into one. That meant trouble for the rest of the NBA’s teams. Not lost on the NBA, ESPN and their respective affiliates, the league and the network went so far as to televise half of James’ HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR basketball teams’ games. Almost unheard of at that point. In a time when some NBA teams never made primetime television, a high school senior is playing 12-15 games, plus an all-star game, on ESPN — IN PRIMETIME.
Like everyone else, I was amazed at the kid’s ability at such a young age. But like the true holders of basketball knowledge, I knew it would take years before he would not only fully mature but actually be worthy of the increasing hype levied upon him from infinite sources almost globally. It was particularly embarrassing, because Kobe Bryant, the aforementioned 3-time NBA Champion, was just a year removed from winning the third of those three titles with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, and had cemented himself as the best player in the league at just 24 years of age.
To put this into perspective, a 24 year old player, just beginning to enter his prime, with three NBA Championships (the “Whose Team Was It?” nonsense is only for detractors, who have mostly been proven to be pathetic individuals with little to no merit to their claims other than being uncomfortable rooting for someone who is cocky and supremely confident — which is what Jordan was and THEN SOME) is being surpassed in popularity and publicity/promotion, by a guy who has yet to play a minute of NBA action. There have been a great number of Can’t Miss prospects who could barely play garbage time in the NBA. I felt that the NBA and ESPN were going overboard with the James coverage and it only got worse as time went on.
The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted the hometown-area James with the #1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and the parallels were interwoven in the storylines during James’ entire seven-year tenure with the team. Through the ups and downs with the team (a .500 team early on, before winning 66 games at its apex), James off-court shenanigans constantly being covered-up and his mostly dazzling play, James could do no wrong in the NBA’s eyes, and now an entire generation of self-proclaimed “Witnesses”. When asked what they were “witnessing”, none to this day can utter anything resembling three, five, six or even seven NBA Titles. BUT WE ARE WITNESSES!
That something being a collective brainwashing of a large segment of people who are too lazy to think for themselves and only parrots the phrases that NBA talking heads (all hand-picked by the very league that gleefully overpromoting an undeserving player, by the way) had bandied about regarding James.
Meanwhile, as much as I despised these actions by lackwit “fans” and the NBA-chosen talking heads, I didn’t want to see the kid fall flat. I don’t wish harm nor failure on anyone. I just wanted him to actually match the expectations and hype, and to this day, as I script this on June 12, 2011, he has not. Not after eight grueling years in the NBA fire. Enough is enough. All fandom and biases aside (yes, I am fully capable of doing this, as I can criticize the players I like most, just as freely as I can the players who I don’t exactly respect fully), Kobe Bryant has the complete game that the supposed “Best Player in the NBA” should have: exquisite footwork (as described by people who cannot be argued — Magic Johnson and Jerry West: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIGMs1WQuMI) — footwork that makes even the NBA’s toughest critic, Bill Walton, gush with envy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebZKSEVw2UI) overall knowledge of the game, overall shooting, running off screens, and the will to win, instead of cowering in big moments — all run laps around anything James has exhibited in eight years.
LeBron’s footwork, you ask?
SERIOUSLY? He’s better than Kobe?
Yet we hear nothing but James all year, every single day of the year. Every highlight, many overstated, continues to be replayed 100 times, even by a few NBA legends who know better (Charles Barkley, who has said James has been better than Bryant for years now, which is embarrassing). LeBron James is a fine player. Could stand to work on his post-up game, learn how to move without the basketball, stop traveling so frequently (almost always getting away with it) and develop impeccable footwork. If and when he does that, I will laud him as I rightfully laud Bryant, who is by far the best in the NBA at putting all these facets of the game together, his work ethnic unparalleled as evidence.
Call me a LeBron “hater”, but I “hate” purveyors of the overhype machine who consistently mistake a player being “the Most Physically Gifted/Unstoppable” for being the actual “BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA”. This cannot be argued, and the way the NBA gives him carte blanche officiating only astounds and infuriates us purists even more.
Onto this charade in Miami.
LeBron James, in typical megalomania fashion, constructs this show titled, “The Decision”, a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and naturally — ESPN, just to publicly annihilate his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers (who deserve no pity after seven years of unfounded arrogance with regards to fans of other teams) by offering a self-aggrandizing announcement that he was not only going to sign with the Miami Heat, but that he was literally hoping that by lining up with two of the Top 15 players in the league, that it would heighten his chances of winning an NBA Championship.
Recruiting players to come play on the team that you are currently a part of is fine. Regardless of the other players’ stature in the league.
Voluntarily relegating yourself, already a Type B personality, as Second Fiddle/Robin to Dwyane Wade’s Batman (Type A/Alpha Male all the way), but you bring along someone who VERBALLY ADMITTED that he hitched his wagon to you like a lost puppy (instead of standing on his own two feet like a man, in Chris Bosh) and suddenly act like a court of jesters on stage in AUGUST, two full months before the NBA season began, and NINE FULL MONTHS before the NBA Finals were to begin in 2011 — as if you had already won the infinite titles that you were certain to win solely because of this union? If this doesn’t represent all that is wrong with the majority of the people who support such actions in today’s society, then I don’t know what example can be better. Sports are often a microcosm of society, and those subjects that receive the most praise and adulation are usually a great (or, in this case, POOR) reflection upon the society from which the subjects arose. That is certainly the case with this charade of a team.
With no regard to the NBA salary cap, GM Pat Riley threw together whoever he could at various positions and hoped that whatever mess that came together — after being thrown against the wall — would hopefully stick.
Initially, it did not, and in-fighting was apparent. Rebelling against overmatched Head Coach Eric Spoelstra, who always appears to have symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome, doesn’t appear to be more than a Rah Rah guy/Motivational Speaker, not an X’s and O’s guy who knows how to get the most out of his players and allow them to flourish. As talented as James, Wade and Bosh are on their own merits, they won despite Spoelstra, after three full months of sliding in the standings, going on winning streaks against subpar competition and outright dominant performances by Wade and/or James, which are enough to carry a team most nights in the NBA Regular Season.
The media ebbed and flowed as the Heat’s play did the same. When the team went on long winning streaks, they were better than the ’69 Lakers. When they bottomed out and lost games to the dregs of the league, somehow only then did a modicum of scrutiny arise. Then the team got hot entering the 2011 Playoffs and steamrolled through each of the Eastern Conference rounds. Admittedly, the Philadelphia 76ers, lacking both a superstar and true closer, were overmatched. The Boston Celtics, whose window for being serious NBA Title contenders ended with Miami defeating them in the Conference Semifinals this year, are old, broken down and didn’t have enough speed and athleticism to keep up with Miami all series. The Chicago Bulls only had one true scorer, and being the primary ball-handler made him (Derrick Rose) that much easier to defend. Bosh actually flourished against overpaid, overmatched perennial playoff bust Carlos Boozer, so even he appeared to be a true superstar, rendering Miami odds-on favorites to just step onto the court and defeat the Dallas Mavericks on sheer talent alone.
The Mavericks, as previously mentioned, are the 2004 Detroit Pistons to the Heat’s 2004 Los Angeles Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki, the consummate professional, is leading his team effectively and they are getting contributions from guys who know their roles and shut their mouths — unlike some Heat players who whined throughout the season (Bosh, several times, and a couple others). It is showing in the 2011 NBA Finals.
To hear that Creative Artists Agency (CAA — the agency that represents almost all A-listers in sports, music, TV and movies), “Worldwide Wes” William Wesley and James’ imprint LRMR are seeing to create a monopoly on the star players in the NBA only further proves that James was at least honest in one regard: he doesn’t want to be the BEST player in NBA history, which he is capable of doing — but only the RICHEST sports figure in history. And forming that conglomerate allows for him to see a piece of the action anytime a high school student signs with a coach represented by CAA or a player signs on to the agency to represent them in professional sports (or an entertainer in film and music as well). NOT HATING ON THAT. That’s entrepreneurship in the highest order. This would be fine if LeBron had finished up a 17-year NBA career and were now serving as an agent of some sort.
BUT HE IS IN HIS EIGHTH YEAR IN THE NBA, IN HIS VERITABLE PRIME AND THESE PURSUITS DIVIDE HIS ATTENTION.
Instead of working on his game all off-season, James focuses on every possible avenue to make money. Again, that in and of itself is WISE. God gave James great abilities that form a confluence that end in his back pocket. In that regard, I’d work in conjunction with him any day. Trust me. But to place someone who doesn’t respect the game enough to know how to avoid traveling with the basketball 20 times a game, calling his inability to think past players the way Kobe Bryant is able to do countlessly — CRAB DRIBBLING — is an embarrassment to anyone who asserts that James is the best player in the league. He isn’t even the best player on his team. Wade is. And with the both of them increasing their ranks as two of the Top 5 Flop Artists in today’s NBA, that respect does take a hit even further.
Bryant is notorious for working on his game all off-season. So is Kevin Garnett. So is Ray Allen, who is maniacal in his workouts and shooting drills. As a result, guess what, he is the undisputed Three Point King in NBA history. No one is likely to ever catch him.
LeBron James is the king of marketing and burning out in pressure situations. But he’s no “King James” nor is he the best player in the NBA.
On to Dwyane Wade? I’m not going to say much, but I could have placed wagers on an Over/Under 5 years how long his marriage would last in Miami upon seeing Pat Riley draft him 5th overall in that 2003 NBA Draft. His wife was rather homely, despite her attempts at makeovers during the years, and even that paled in comparison to what South Beach offers on a daily basis between celebrities who live there and seek out others who earn the way they do (Gabrielle Union) or the natives, who are naturally going appear exotic to a hick coming from the Chicago suburbs and later suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The way Wade cheated rampantly on his wife, with alleged marijuana and cocaine parties with strippers in one of his homes in suburban Chicago, to the way the NBA virtually handed the 2006 Miami Heat the NBA Championship with officiating in Games 3 through 6 (the closeout game) of that series making the 2002 Western Conference Game 6 Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers appear to be TEXTBOOK OFFICIATING, and Wade’s apparent steroid and HGH usage, asshole demeanor — all of which escalated with the overly loud arrival of James to South Beach — makes this team extremely detestable. They flop around more than most Barca soccer players and whine to the refs, berating the officials all along the way, while never receiving the technical fouls that even Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard receive for doing much mess. They lack cohesion, for if they didn’t, they’d surely never lose. Roles are undefined and it is obvious that Spoelstra is in less control of his team than Joe Girardi is of his New York Yankees, who get hit by pitches once every other game, while Girardi stands in the dugout with the face of someone who just underwent a lobotomy without anesthesia.
NEVERTHELESS, THE HEAT HAVE TONS OF “FANS” AND “HATERS”.
You already know how I feel about the usage of the term “hater”, don’t you: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150109476022881
Listen. I’ve followed the Heat since their inception. I remember when guys like Keith Askins, Vernell Coles (better known as “Bimbo”), my guy Steve “Work the Baseline” Smith and Rony Seikaly were all there. I remember when they were also-rans, perennially getting sonned by Michael Jordan. I remember how my Knicks owned them and how owner Micky Arison had to (and still does) coax “fans” to show up in playoff games because they’re really fair-weathered fans in Miami. The one year the Heat actually got past us in the playoffs was due to a ridiculous rule and suspension of 70% of the Knicks’ offensive output. Bully for you, Miami Heat fans.
The only teams Miami residents ardently and truly support are the Miami Dolphins (now THOSE are real fans, they haven’t won anything since the same year my Knicks last won something) and “The U.” — University of Miami Hurricanes college football (many of these are understandable, as the team won five National Championships in a 20 year span).
As I remember it, the Heat had about 62 fans before LeBron James signed. They had about 4 when Wade was drafted in 2003, as the Tim Hardaways, the Alonzo Mournings (thank God he was healed), the Voshon Lenards and Thunder Dan Majerles were riding off into the sunset by that point. Now all of a sudden, every other retard with a keyboard is suddenly a “Heatian” and claims to have been a Heat fan back when Ike Austin and Grant Long were manning the paint.
And to them, if we’re not incessantly sucking off the team and its players, and overlooking all the foul things they do, culminating with this AFTER, losing the game prior — mocking the very guy who kicked their asses despite truly being sick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoOXKha7uL4
… WE’RE ALL HATERS.
Go Mavs (perfect timing as the game is set to begin as I publish this).