The Heatles, 2010-2014: An appreciation of the Miami Heat

Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and guard Dwyane Wade (3) speak during a press conference after game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron’s move to Cleveland, and all the warm fuzzies it engendered, puts me it a strange position. For the first time in four years, I will be rooting for him.

During the 2011 Finals, I was on vacation in Cancun. Although we were in paradise, I and many other guests gathered around the hotel bar to watch. Everyone was rooting for Dallas. I don’t think they all happened to be Mavericks fans. Like the Yankees, the Patriots or the Bad Boy-era Pistons, the Heat were in every toast at the Player Haters Ball. Even after the Heat won two championships, they remained the villains. While the Spurs play a beautiful brand of basketball, I don’t think that’s why the nation lined up behind them the past two Junes.

While I think the Miami squad LeBron left behind will go down in history as one of the best villain teams ever, I won’t go into why people hated the Heatles. I want to focus on why, now that they are gone, we should look back on them fondly. Of course, they united us in hate. But the league is better with a villain.

For all the legitimate or illegitimate reasons people had for hating the Heat, basketball was not one of them. At their peak, they could make beautiful music of their own on offense. It turns out Eric Spoelstra, on one of the hottest seats ever in his first year, could coach. He arguably maximized LeBron’s considerable offensive potential by slotting him at power forward, and his lineups, whether created out of duress or ingenuity, hinted at a possible positionless future for the NBA. I don’t think any coach has gotten more out of Chris Andersen, picked up off the scrap heap and unleashed as human fly swatter, slapping away weak shit all over the floor and finishing hard at the rim on offense.

Without the prominence of the Heatles, much of the public wouldn’t have gotten to meet characters like Birdman, or Chris Bosh, who it turns out is funnier and a better interviewee than the third-banana dinosaur we imagined. We would never have gotten to know the joy of watching Mario Chalmers get yelled at. We never would have seen that ridiculous shot by Ray Allen, perhaps the most iconic in a career filled with giant makes.

Miami’s aggressive, trapping defense stifled lesser teams, perhaps most starkly against Jeremy Lin during the throes of Linsanity. Lin had dazzled in game after game, delighting fans like me. But the Heat were the pinch that ended the dream, harassing Lin to the point that he could barely cross half court. While they snuffed out a beautiful thing, that same defense pushed the the Mavericks and later the Spurs to perfect a free-flowing, unselfish brand of offense. It was the only way to crack the Heat. One can only hope that other teams follow suit with that level of elite defense. And even though they ruined one of my favorite NBA phenomenons in Linsanity, the Heat deserve a measure of credit for raising the bar on defense.

I’m happy LeBron is back in Cleveland. It’s a feel-good story, even if it seems like an obviously good PR move. But I think the league is a little less compelling without its resident villain.

Myles Ma

  • MiamiConservative

    Again I am amazed that when Lebron leaves a bad team with an owner that stopped just short of calling him upitty to a good organization with a classy owner, he and his new team is the “bad guy”. fast forward four years and his new team does everything they promised and Lbron still leaves to go back to that abysmal organization with that same owner and now he is the “good guy”? If anything, you could argue that Lebron is a bigger jerk for leaving the Heat than leaving Cleveland. Miami made him a two time champion and he would have been a three time champion, if he played better in 2011 Finals.

    • daryl nash

      Um no!!! He gave you 4 years 2.titles and your leaving outbthefact that his friends family and wife wanted to go back HOME. You can never be a jerk for that. The way you obtained him was shady and then you claim him going home is shady???? Sounds like the guy who steals someones wife and then gets upset when she realized where she belongs. Your city benefitted Lebron benefited and now its over . Be ok with that.

      • Heatlifer

        Actually we gave him 2 titles in 4 years. He was with the Cavs for 7 years and never won a title. Miami teached him how to win championship.

      • MiamiConservative

        We didn’t steal the wife. The husband abused the wife and we took her in and helped her heal. After we treated her the way she deserved, she left and went back to the abusive husband. We might have not won those two championships without Lebron, but he definitely wouldn’t have won them in Cleveland during those years.

    • lollll

  • riverlobo

    As I wrapped up my 4th decade of being an NBA Fan, now with the phenomenon that is social media (as if humans suddenly discoverd being social) i reflect back and wonder, was anybody else watching? I think the human needs to label everything to know where they fit, so here you go to all haters that made Miami the villians, get a hobby , get a life, spend some time with your children, get a second career. Take yoga, I am repulsed by all this hate talk. This just says how deeply unfulfilled you are as humans. Basketball is a beautiful game and one that often times is not decided until the final shot. All Miami did is what many teams did previously under the rules. Look at what GM James is doing in Cleveland now, route for him…why. He was deceitful, gave the Miami organization no clue, and pulled off his PR move and you all ate it up. I guess at the end of the day I see the queue and you are all in line mooing waiting for the butcher shop, how naive and gullible you all are…go ahead route for him as he continues to try and have his way with the NBA , since in MIA they only gave him some leeway…