Are you celebrating a little bit? You saw the Miami Heat fall to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the NBA Finals 105-94. Now the hated Heat are three losses away from losing not one but two NBA titles since their version of the Dream Team got together.
People hate the Heat because they hate LeBron James, the guy that made the decision a couple years ago. Many have not let go and they won’t let it go. Villians in sports are nothing new. I was the beat writer for one of the biggest villians in sports history — the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons.
They made three straight NBA Finals and won titles in 1989 and 1990. They were like a rock band on tour during road trips. Crowds around the arena were thicker. People gathered around loading docks just to get a glimpse of the team and yell at them. People threw four letter words at Bill Laimbeer like they were bullets. They did not yell at Laimbeer as much as they spit the words at him.
Michigan football is hated at Ohio State. I went down for a game and wanted to see if the Buckeyes were as crazy as everybody said they were. Oh boy, were they. First of all every Big Ten flag flies at the horseshoe except Michigan. They ever fly Notre Dame’s flag there. The biggest selling T-shirts are Ohio State gear. The second biggest sellers are anti-Michigan shirts.
I saw two women in their 70s stand by the tunnel where Michigan came out and cursed every player. They spoke like sailors and looked like Marines. It was vicious.
Former Piston Dennis Rodman was hated in Chicago until he became a member of the Chicago Bulls. Once someone threw one of those old fashion Coca Cola bottles at him in Chicago Stadium and shattered all over the floor. If it had hit Rodman it would have knocked him out cold.
It is OK to hate teams. That is part of sports. But sometimes we go overboard.
In this case hate is good. Hate will motivate the Heat. Hate will make the Thunder feel good about themselves and more importantly for the NBA, hate will drive up television ratings.