It was the piece I'd been hoping to avoid, a look at how fans should deal with losing after winning a remarkable 11 consecutive playoff series. Maybe it could be cathartic as well as enlightening or perhaps neither. After all, mine is just a lone voice that you might never hear over the din of your deafening unhappiness following the Miami Heat's shocking Thursday night loss. You might choose to block me out, satisfied in your right to be as miserable and obnoxious as you like and to announce it publicly on national television.
If only I could do the same.
It's too late now, though. You've revealed your true nature and exposed a much-maligned fanbase - again - as white-shirted frauds. This doesn't apply to everyone who endured Game 4 at the AmericanAirlines Arena. In fact, it was refreshing to see true fans cheer their team as time mercifully expired on yet another blowout, a painful reminder that you might not see this team, perhaps ever, again. But there were enough boos scattered throughout to remind everyone across the country and the world (after all it's the NBA Finals) that perhaps all fans in this superficial and artificial region are this greedy and ignorant.
As the boos cascaded like waterfalls of auditory corrosive, I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes in the 1993 film, Jurassic Park. If you haven't seen it - even two decades later, it still resonates so you're doing yourself a disservice - I'll set the scene. Scientists and experts have been brought to an experimental theme park that will allow humanity to interact with cloned dinosaurs. They've just gotten the grand tour and one expert, a theoretical mathematician played by Jeff Goldblum, sees the inherent danger of the concept:
How much does that scene seem to apply to those loud, displeased few at the arena? As Goldblum's character, Ian Malcom, states dryly after hearing talk about a merchandising and discounted ticket prices so that everyone can have access to creatures that have been extinct for millions of years, "The lack of humility, before nature, that's being displayed here, staggers me." In this case, it's not before nature but rather the arrogance on display before millions of fans of other franchises that have never tasted the success of the Miami Heat.
Thirteen teams, 43% of the league, have never won a championship. They range from relatively new franchises (like Brooklyn, that floundered for decades as the New Jersey Nets, but won a title as part of the ABA, a league that died 40 years ago) to teams that have existed for years and even moved from city to city. Miami has won three championships in eight years and been to the Finals twice more in that same span. During the current historic span of four-straight trips to the NBA Finals, five franchises have not even made the playoffs. While Miami fans have had to endure (please note the sarcasm) gripping battles with rivals like the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, fans in Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Phoenix and Sacramento have not had a personal interest in professional basketball from mid-April to mid-June. Eight months of extended basketball seasons that have twice resulted in championships.
Heat fans are clearly spoiled by their success, a glorious gift that was discarded on Thursday night like a used diaper, stinking and full. As Malcom continues in the clip, "I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here...it didn't require any discipline to obtain it." The same could be said of Heat fans about this marvelous version of their team.
"The Big 3" era came together just four seasons after Miami had first tasted championship success, hardly long enough to appreciate how difficult it is to "obtain it." Ask frustrated fans in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston for their take. Instead, after just a short while, Miami fans were given arguably one of the best teams in NBA history and couldn't learn to appreciate winning because they never knew how hard it was to continuously keep losing. While Knicks fans cling to titles won in the early ‘70s by a great team of unselfish Hall-of-Famers, a modern version of that has provided an ever greater level of success in Miami. Bulls fans still worship at the altar of the long-retired (thrice) Michael Jordan, when a player that might wind up being even better suits up for the Heat every night.
You might read this and think that booing is your right as a fan. It certainly is. You've paid for your ticket and you can do or say anything you like. Likewise, it is also my right to be critical of your actions. But I feel much more justified in my decision after witnessing Miami's incredible level of success. After years of devastating defense, fast break offense, half-court alley-oops and dunks that brought down the house. After historic 27-game win streaks and 27-point comebacks. And, yes, after witnessing miracles in Game 6 of last year's Finals.
So you can boo if you want to, if it gives you smug satisfaction to criticize a team that has given so much. But I refer to the closing line by Malcom in the clip, if these fans read this and begin to argue vehemently to defend their right to complain, that perhaps they were "so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."