Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Ignorance Attacks: How My Grumbling Acceptance of The Heat Was Derailed By Their Fans.

It happened again. I was just about done shaking it off, and then: relapse. I was cool with the Heatles and the bandwagon and everything else, because ultimately, the team is a blast to watch on the court, and the NBA having a Yankees-type antagonist is a good thing. And then the fans did something stupid. Twice. After some excessive and profane heckling of Charles Barkley during game three of the Eastern Conference Finals prompted TNT to move their studio analyst crews' location, the crowd at American Airlines Arena once again serenaded Chuck with invective as he waited to begin his post-game broadcast. I couldn't quite make it out through my cruddy, old TV's cruddy, tiny speakers, but the chant sounded like "Chuck You Suck!" or something similar.

Now, I hate to play the obvious fiddle here, but I have to ask ... why?

Was it because Barkley called out LeBron after "The Decision" for what he perceived as a gutless move and an admission that LBJ didn't aspire to Greatness? Was it because he has maintained all year that he didn't think the Heat could succeed until they got some complimentary artillery around their three big guns? We the fans just letting Chuck know they feel vindicated that his assessment is apparently being proven wrong before our eyes?

Whatever the reason, this has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen a fanbase do. I stood outside of Fenway Park right after Boston won the 2007 World Series and listen to hordes of drunken Sox fans chant "Yankees Suck!" This was interesting because, obviously, that was not the opponent they'd just vanquished to claim the championship. It had nothing to do with anything, in fact. It was one of the silliest things I've ever witnessed. And it wasn't half as asinine as the Heat fans abusing Chuck.

Which, really, is a shame. Like I said, I'd just gotten over everything that transpired with this team. They were too fun to watch play to fan acrimonious flames over. I didn't care about LeBron's demoralization of Cleveland on national TV anymore. I didn't want to waste time belittling Chris Bosh. Heck, I've always liked D-Wade. Thinking back on how shaky these guys looked when the season started, it's been a fascinating experience to watch them struggle and stumble and ultimately find a balance. I even (mostly) stopped ragging on Miami's show-up-late-leave-early bandwagon fans. That's the nature of the town; no sense trying to change or demean it. Sure, they're terrible basketball fans, but tell me South Beach wouldn't throw an epic party and treat these guys like conquering heroes if the Heat won a ring or three. Tell me you wouldn't want to be there when THAT shindig went down.

Of course I wish it were different, that the Heat bringing home a title would mean something in a true basketball sense. I wish their fans were as intelligent and devoted as those in Boston or LA or New York. But I was also resigned to that not being the case, and ready, if not eager, to simply watch a good team play hoops. In other words, I'd reached the point where my philosophical basketball reservations about the Heat had been superseded by my visceral basketball enjoyment of their game. Until this nonsense started.

What those fans at the Triple A we doing wasn't only incredibly stupid, it was indefensible by every rooting bylaw I can think of. You think LBJ or Wade should've received MVP honors over Derrick Rose? By all means, give him the "Ov-Er-Ra-Ted!" treatment. Heckle your opponents all you want, WITHIN REASON. (I'm looking at you, jackass who provoked Joakim Noah the other night.) That's part of the fun of being at an NBA game. But yelling at a TV analyst because he holds certain opinions about one of your players and your team's roster in general? What, you think because your team is exceeding the expectations that most reasonable NBA people had for them this season, you have the right to shout them down now?

Let me tell you something, Miami: that kind of stuff is reserved for real basketball fans. See, I was fine with you people. You were who you were, fair enough. If you wanted to cheer of heckle at games, that's just part of being there. But when you call out one of the 35 greatest players of all time for his opinions, as if you knew better, you really ought to be able to back it up. The only reason you idiots thought Chuck was wrong was because you know nothing about basketball. If you did, you would have been worried about Chris Bosh being consistently productive. You would have been terrified about your lack of depth. You would NOT be telling Chuck "I Told You So", because if you knew anything about the game, you wouldn't have expected this. Nobody did.

The gloating is annoying, stupid, and you can't get away with it, South Beach, so knock it off. I just started to enjoy your team for what it was, warts and all. I would never have loved them, but now I have to go back to rooting spitefully, vehemently against them. All because you idiots don't know the difference between rooting and being self-satisfied, non-basketball-knowing, jerks.

Go Mavs!

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