After hearing that LeBron James was taking his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat fans were very respectful and cordial. In fact, I did something I thought I would never do; I took to Facebook and praised Heat fans for showing gracefulness to the man who brought the Heat back to NBA relevance.
But it was a little premature to lay heaps of praise on the Heat fanbase, which I have derided as callous and vapid for years. For years I referred to Heat fans as “the 20 minute fanbase,” because they always show up to the American Airlines Arena 20 minutes late and leave 20 minutes early, regardless of whether or not the team is winning.
But on the day King James jilted the Heat, Miami fans shocked the sports world by showing a type of warmth not previously seen. Heat fans kept telling us that they don’t care if LeBron left or not, it’s Dwyane Wade‘s team anyway.
But they care. Oh, do they care.
Go to the Heat’s Facebook page or read the comments on James’ Facebook or Instagram post, and you will see the bitterness of Heat fans up close and personal. A quiz from a Miami sports fansite to weed out bandwagon fans clearly had an “anti-LeBron” bias to it. And on Thursday, hate for LeBron in South Florida reached its apex, as Miami talk radio host and ESPN personality, Dan Le Batard, bought a billboard in Akron, Ohio which read “You’re Welcome LeBron. Love, Miami,” with a picture of the Heat’s two championship rings that James helped Miami obtain.
Heat fans really do believe that LeBron should be thanking “them” for getting his two rings. Oh no, my Heat friends. You should be thanking LeBron. Remember, it was Pat Riley who was crawling to Cleveland trying to lure him to South Beach, not the other way around. Without LeBron, Miami would not have had those two poorly-attended championship parades in downtown Miami. It’s that type of arrogance that led many around the country to hate the Heat fanbase in the first place.
So my plea to Heat fans is this: Have some humility, because LeBron could have taken his talents to the Chicago Bulls or the New York Knicks, as they were the leading teams to land him before Riley dumped his championship rings on the table four years ago. LeBron “chose” Miami. He owes the Heat nothing. He gave Miami everything he had, right down to the bitter end, and for that, he delivered two championships to Miami.
Dan’s billboard should have read; “Thank You LeBron. Love, Miami,” because Heat fans should be thanking him, not the other way around. It’s time to get with reality, Heat fans. You are no longer the center of the sports universe. Deal with it and accept it.