Supporting Miami can be rough and I'm not even talking about the past month, I'm talking about being a fan. Proclaiming you go for the Heat, let alone one from New Zealand can be a drag; I just can't seem to avoid the dreaded "bandwagon" tag. I spend an inordinate amount of time explaining how I came to support Miami so here it is once and for all. May I never have to explain it again.
It usually goes something like "Do you go for the Heat?". Yes, I'll reply, waiting for the next exchange. "Well then who's your favourite player?". LeBron James, I'll say, now waiting on the next lot of questions which include but are not limited to:
A) Did you used to follow Cleveland? Or, B) Oh, so since LeBron went to Miami (always snickering) or, C) People watch NBA in New Zealand?
No, no (well kind of) and definitely yes. Let us go back to a time when we didn't hate How I Met Your Mother and MySpace was amazing. It was here in 2005 I became introduced to the one they call King James through my then Phoenix Suns loving boyfriend who infiltrated my sports equilibrium with NBA. Throughout our relationship he crossed over to the Heat (because of the Shawn Marion trade) then settled on the Boston Celtics. Me? I still never "had a team" so to speak but I did enjoy watching Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and naturally, James.
Fast forward to 2010 and my partner and I booked and paid for my first trip to the States to see the Heat play the Celtics here in Miami. The best of both worlds we figured, until months went by and we eventually broke up. Knowing he had loved NBA since forever, I forfeited my tickets telling him to enjoy the trip without me (which he did). The morning of that end of regular season game back in 2011, I sat watching the score on my phone knowing he'd be there in his Allen Celtics jersey. So, like any scorned ex-girlfriend I rooted for the Heat and they won 100-77. Justice I told myself. You know, girl stuff.
This was then followed by the Celtics and Heat meeting again in the playoffs and before you knew it, I'd cultivated this tale I now repeat of how I finally pledged my allegiance to team. Not by following LeBron anywhere, or chiming in because they were all the rage. I was just a newly single woman who still had access to my ex-boyfriend's League Pass.
I'm on the bandwagon in the eyes of most and always will be and I get that, I don't expect to be in the same category as original Miami born die-hards, but I'm still a fan nonetheless. They bring me elation, they piss me off. We are one in the same. Sometimes I even find myself admiring the die-hard Minnesota or Detroit fans; their loyalty of late would never get questioned. Flying 5,000 miles to watch Miami play live then followed by moving here to cover them always gets overlooked.
I do have a confession to make though in regards to Heat fans leaving early though. Remember the Pacers-Heat series in the Eastern Conference finals when James drove and made the game-winning basket with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock? I was midst walking through the foyer. Like I was leaving. Early.
"God dammit we are going to lose the series!" I panicked to myself like a mental patient. By that point I'd turned up to every playoff game at the arena, I was drained and emotional. I just wanted this horrid game to end. Only by the time I'd gotten up into foyer to flee and hide under the covers, fans started screaming and tearing through the arena. James had won us the game.
Instantly regret washed over me, I felt awful. I turned to my friend who I'd dragged out with me.
"We must never whisper a word of this to anyone, do you hear me? Never! We take this shame to our grave" I begged. Or, I could just confess my sin right here.
Will I ever walk out on my team again? Probably. I mean there's bound to be one or two shockers where I lose my mind and want to stab myself in the face. But that's passion! I love my team so much at times it's physically hurts to sit through and suffer on-court carnage. It did however teach me never to dismiss a close game until the clock runs out. Lesson learned.
Fandom is what it is, judge me, mock me, continue your bandwagon tirades if it makes you feel better. Regardless, Miami are my team despite geographic's or coincidental timing. And if you're wondering who I'll support when/if LeBron leaves? Miami of course. And I can't wait.