Trolling for the Heat

Rooting against Miami has become a moral obligation, so it’s time to support the Heat.

I want the Miami Heat to beat the Chicago Bulls.

It’s shocking for me to type that. But I really do.

When LeBron, Bosh, and Wade signed with Miami I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s just three guys trying to win a championship. No more, no less. But whether he wants there to be or not—and he almost always does—there’s always more with LeBron. It’s more than basketball. It’s more than winning. LeBron’s doesn’t want to be the best at basketball. He wants to be the best at basketball-plus-everything-else. So, before a season begins, months and months before, you get something like this:

Then the season started, and they really weren’t that good. They lost a lot of games, and we all got something out of them being so bad.

You idiots! That’s what happens when you try to buy a championship. You have to beat the best to be the best. You don’t just go join up with them. A team takes more than three players. Defense wins championships. There’s no “I” in team. Hair of the dog. When in Rome. Cliché. Cliché. Cliché.

Eventually, though, things started to click. They destroyed the Lakers on Christmas day. It was scary—a temporary realization of how easily this team could decimate the league. But it was just that: only temporary. They still won a lot of games, but they couldn’t win the big ones. The Bulls, the Spurs, and the Celtics were still too much. The three capital-T Teams passed and moved and knew each other better than the temporary, not-yet-ready-made Heat.

They were good, but good teams don’t get preseason welcome parties. We don’t really know who, exactly, gets a preseason welcome party, but we knew it wasn’t this team.

And we knew you didn’t root for the Heat. Not-the-Heat became everyone’s second-favorite team. We rooted for whomever the assholes were playing. It was almost like you didn’t have a choice. If you gave a shit about the soul of the NBA, you wanted to see Miami lose. If you ever rooted for Miami, you were a troll, an idiot, or the combination of the two: an actual Miami Heat fan. There was no defense for supporting The Big Three.

But then it got old. And the Heat got good.


I don’t really know where it happened, but the Heat bashing came to represent something more than just not liking the team. It wasn’t just supporting what was right with basketball, anymore. It was supporting what’s right with life … with everything. Anti-Miami sentiment became an attempt at moral obligation. It tried—way too artificially—to make itself a necessity for, well, being a good person. You couldn’t relate to this team and you couldn’t root for this team—save for the five dyed-in-the-wool Miami supporters—if you lived your life with any kind of introspection or concern for what kind of person you were.

I don’t know what’s happening with Cleveland. The city has been through a lot—and that’s unfairly simplifying it. There’s something going on there, and I’m too scared to find out what it is. But the James Era is over. LeBron is gone. He’s moved on, but Cleveland still hasn’t. There’s a hatred that transcends sports. It’s still radiating whenever LeBron takes a wrong step or tries to right a wrong. It’s the ugliness of “hyperpartisanship” that Brian Phillips wrote about a few weeks ago.

We like talking about sports as more than sports. There’s more there than just a game. If there wasn’t, a lot of us wouldn’t have jobs. There’s so much more than what happens on the field or court, but when rooting against a team becomes some kind of vessel for what’s right in the world and, at the same time, justifying some ugly, irrational hatred, it turns me off. Especially when that’s not at all what it really represents.

Like I wrote about on Friday, the Bulls are the good guys and the Heat are the bad guys. It’s already being pushed on us, even though it’s really just the guys who got LeBron and Wade versus the guys who didn’t.

The Heat are awesome to watch. With two unselfish, super-athletic stars, every night they do things we’ve never seen before. It’s shocking and makes Heat games weirdly disappointing. You wonder why they can’t blow your mind every time down the court. They’re uniquely impressive on defense, too. It’s a garishly unbalanced roster, but they’ve made it work all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Whatever you think about the Decision, the South Beach preseason coronation, and the idea of three guys making a pact to play together, there’s nothing inherently evil about this team.

Sure, at times, there’s been a lack of self-awareness, but that’s it. LeBron is immature. And by taking his side and not saying anything, we group Bosh and Wade in there too. But LeBron’s slowly learning, and these guys really didn’t do anything bad. They did something different, and it wasn’t even really all that different, was it? The Heat are so much less than what they’ve come to represent.

If that makes me a troll, so be it. I’ve always wanted an excuse to not wear a shirt and get a belly-button ring anyway.

—Photo AP/Mike Fuentes

About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. Le bron is a douche and an idiot

  2. Le Bron is an idiot and a douche

  3. I don’t hate Lebron, but I don’t want the Heat to win the championsip either. It’s the principal. I don’t like the idea that a group of the league’s best players can get together in the preseason, pick the city with the best weather, and walk off with a championship less than 1 year later. It cheapens what a championship is supposed to be about. To me, the Bulls represent Chicago; D Rose has been there for a few years, the rest of the team has been building up around him, getting stronger, along with fan support and city excitement. If the Bulls win, and people say Chicago won the championship, it will mean the Chicago Bulls, their fans, and the city itself won a championship. If the heat win? Lebron, Bosh and Wade will have bought/won themselves a championship in a city with warm weather.

  4. Sorry, but if you’re not from Cleveland and you don’t understand and haven’t experienced all the decades of sports misery the city has been through, you have no right to stand there on the outside–especially as a callow youth–and judge the city as pathologically scary and unfairly judgmental against LeBron or for hating the Heat. There is no way in hell the average Clevelander will ever be able to root for him or for any team he plays for, and the mere fact that someone like you doesn’t understand it doesn’t make it “ugly.” It’s just Cleveland. I love it, and I always will. I will save my rooting for the players and team that bring us another championship, not someone who promises it for years and then skips off to play with his buddies. And, yeah, we noticed the intensity he’s playing with this year vs. his “who the hell cares, I’ve got one foot out the door anyway even if nobody knows it yet” playoff efforts in a Cavaliers uniform. A city doesn’t forget that–and there’s nothing sick about it. Except our hearts.

  5. Bosh only wnted to fit. No one knew of him till he joined d wade would of just rather took boozer. But drose has him now give it 3years till Bosh or wade decide they wanna get traded cause lebron fails at getig to the top lol C-bulls 4 lyphe

  6. I don’t know Ryan….

    Not only do I think the Bulls are a better team, I think they’re more fun to watch. D-Rose is unbelievable and could easily be the best player on the court this series. As much as I hate Noah he’s an energy guy and a total pest—the kind of guy you love if he’s on your team and hate if he’s playing against you.

    I don’t blame Cleveland one bit for hating LeBron forever. The way he left was so over-the-top inexcusable I believe it’s justified. People can forgive a player for taking more money somewhere else, but they cannot (and should not) forgive him for drawing it out, making it all about him and helping to create a show where your city gets a proverbial dump taken on it on live TV.

    Sure I like D-Wade. Good guy great player. But Bosh??? What’s so exciting about watching Chris Bosh? I don’t see it.

    Go Bulls.

  7. Tom Matlack says:

    Really, these guys didn’t behave so well beating my Celtics. No way I can root for them. I was hoping for Memphis the misfits but now I have to root for Tom T our coach and Derek Rose is a quality human being. No circus act.


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