Ever since "The Decision," the Miami Heat have been pretty much universally disliked outside of Florida. They've been seen as an anti-competitive dream team, arrogant, and generally receiving way too much attention for a group that hadn't actually proven much at all. America likes winners, but they don't like to crown people before they've accomplished anything.
But it's the playoffs now, and the Heat look pretty damn good. With a potential finals berth only weeks away, they're starting to get some bandwagon fans. LeBron James, for one, is very confused. From Kevin Arnovitz for the Heat Index:
"We understand that, as we win games, people will try to crown us," Heat forward LeBron James said. "That's bizarre. We just have to go out there and continue to play our game."
But the Heat's pair of convincing wins over the Boston Celtics in the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinals series has quieted naysayers and has some observers proclaiming Miami title favorites.
"The bandwagon will sway so flagrantly to each side after each game that it's hard to keep track of everything," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Three days of everyone singing your accolades -- if you let it, it will make you soft."
Yeah, it's totally crazy that anyone would crown a team before it's won a championship. What kind of insane person would act like that?
No matter how oblivious they may be, James and Spoelstra are right. The Heat look roughly similar to how they have the whole year -- when James and Wade play well, they can win games against good teams without looking especially cohesive. The point being that they've always had the potential to win the championship, even when they looked their worst. This is the same team that everyone hated in November, except they're winning more games now.
Still, playoff success breeds bandwagon fans, and this outcome was always to be expected if Miami played well in the postseason. America loves a winner. If the Heat win the whole shebang, they won't look so arrogant anymore.