Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mavericks are the Least of the Miami Heat's Worries

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were heroes in the JMR household not long ago.  G proudly wore his Dwyane Wade jersey and C would still wear his LeBron James' Cleveland Cavalier jersey because "LeBron James is the best player. I don't care if he's with the Heat now."  We were glued to the TV to watch The Decision and the Heat's first game of the season against the Celtics drew all of our eyes to the TV late into the night even though it was a school night.

We are the Most Hated Team in America!
Things have changed dramatically in these last 6 months.  And the NBA and the Miami Heat should be worried.  My 9 year old doesn't want to wear that James jersey anymore.  When I offered to get him another one for his birthday, he told me that he didn't like LeBron anymore.  In fact, when I asked him who is favorite three players were he answered John Wall, Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant (seemingly unaware of any Colorado issues).  My 6 year old then answered that his three favorite players are Ray Allen, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.  He went on to explain that Wade wasn't his favorite player anymore because he was mean.  When I asked him what he meant, he shrugged his shoulders and walked away.  He can't explain why Wade is mean, he just KNOWS he is.  A little different than the infamous welcome party in Miami a couple of days after the Heat signed James last Summer.  What does this all mean?

Fast forward to Game 6 of the NBA Finals and the Heat are on the brink of losing the first of many playoff series.  The boys join me to root for the Dallas Mavericks to win the Series.  As we watch, the Heat's problems can be explained by three quotes from the boys.

"Bosh looks like a giraffe his neck is so long." G remarks as the game starts.  I never noticed.

Chris Bosh has gone from being a part of the big three to a crying, blubbery mess.  He has become a real problem for the team because they don't what to do with him.  He's a guy who wants to take big shots  without any big shots to take.  His points and rebounds dropped by 20 percent.  Unfortunately, his assists also dropped by 20%.  His FG Percentage dropped from .518 to .494 on top of all that.  Kind of sad actually. Look for him to be with Sacramento Kings or New York Knicks by 2013.

"I hate LeBron James now!"  C tells me as he watches the game in silence, waiting for bedtime, after I ask him if he still likes LeBron.

One of the worst public relations disasters in sports history.  The saddest chapter in the NBA's and ESPN's history.  Just a few of the phrases being thrown around these days about "The Decision."  I don't know that many people outside of South Beach who think this was a good idea.  He was once featured in Gatorade and Nike ads.  Now he tries to sell energy tabs.  And he's in a no win situation on top of all that.  Despite going for a triple-double in Game 4, columnists and journalists just focused on him getting on 2 points in the Fourth Quarter.  I don't need to go into an essay about his psyche.  All I have to say is that LeBron James has emotional problems.  

"I don't like Dwyane Wade anymore.  Because he's with the Heat." 

Dwyane Wade was once the one man wrecking crew.  He once led the Heat to the 2006 NBA Championship by himself (Shaquille O'Neal did nothing in that series that he didn't do in a regular season game against the Golden State Warriors) and valiantly fought through injury and Michael Beasley's play to get to the playoffs in 2010.  He was considered superhuman and certainly one if not the best player in the League.  Now he's the guy who can't make the big shot.  Now he's the de facto leader of the most hated franchise in the NBA.  The Celtics and the Lakers don't like each other.  The Pistons and Pacers have a heated rivalry too.  But you go into any NBA arena and no one likes the Heat.  Wade, once becoming a media darling, he will now start to lose media opportunities.  When was the last time you saw him in a commercial?  Who wants one of the most hated athletes as a spokesman? 

This is really becoming a problem for the NBA.  Everyone likes to root against the front runners.  There were people out there who rooted Tiger Woods losing, not anyone else winning.  The Yankees were the same way.  That's ok.  It leads to higher ratings and more money for everyone.  This feels different though.  The Heat are turning people off from the game because they are so hated.  My children forget their feelings after about 5 minutes, but they remember that they don't want to see LeBron and Dwyane Wade.  A lot of people, instead of rooting against the Heat, simply dislike them so much that they don't want to watch.  That's a fact.  Ratings and ad revenue will decline in response.

That's not a good thing. And the NBA and the Heat should be worried.

photograph courtesy of

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