Being a Miami Heat fan has not always been easy. Sure, the team just came off a four-year run of euphoria having assembled a team of the ages with three superstars and reaching the NBA Finals each of those years while taking home two championships.
However, amongst the leagues fan bases and in the eyes of the national media a Heat fan is often referred to as being on the bandwagon. The team has been accused on more than one occasion of pumping noise into the stands and let's not forget the countless times cable broadcast networks zoom in on the scantily clad section of the arena where there happen to be a few empty seats before tipoff.
Despite all the negativity aimed towards the team and its fan base, Forbes has ranked Heat fans as the best in the NBA.
Here's the criteria used to determine which team made their Top 10 list:
• Hometown crowd reach (defined by market researchers Nielsen Scarborough as a percentage of the local population that watched, attended, and/or listened to a game in the last year)
• 3 years worth of television ratings
• 3 years of arena attendance based on capacity reached
• 3 years worth of merchandise sales
• Social media reach (a combination of Facebook likes and Twitter followers)
Their analysis also included what Forbes referred to as "trends in behavior."
So naturally, one will likely conclude that the LeBron era in Miami is the singular reason for its fan base taking the top spot. However, Forbes was also quick to note that prior to LeBron taking his talents to Biscayne Boulevard (not South Beach), the team has ranked top 5 in the league in attendance since the 2004-05 season, the days of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.
Also, the team has had a player among those with the best selling jersey and/or team merchandise has ranked amongst the league's best since 2004. The Heat rank 3rd in terms of its social media reach/following, a number that extends beyond the boundaries Miami-Dade county.
So... on the contrary to the naysayers, the post-LeBron days have not lead to a mass exodus. In fact, the team ranks 6th in attendance this season according to ESPN.
Kudos to the real Heat fans, you're the real MVP.
The Top 10 "Best NBA Fans" according to Forbes:
1. Miami Heat
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Los Angeles Lakers
6. Boston Celtics
7. (tie) Dallas Mavericks
7. (tie) Indiana Pacers
9. Portland Trail Blazers
10. Los Angeles Clippers