Sure, the two teams are rivals. But it is deeper than that. The Heat are not disliked simply for being good at basketball. This stance actually emerged before the team had won anything of significance.
The Boston Celtics dominated the Eastern Conference for a few years, and even won a championship after acquiring a Big 3 in Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. Currently, the Indiana Pacers have emerged as a title contender while boasting its own three-headed monster of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and David West. Yet, neither of these teams is or was ever disliked with the venom directed at LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.
An even more perfectly contrasting example would be the San Antonio Spurs. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili have won several championships together but have never been hated around the league. Why? Because they are a bunch of likable guys. James, Wade, and Bosh, on the other hand, are not.
Whether fair or unfair, non-basketball related criticisms abound when referencing the Heat. Some of it, the players have brought upon themselves. As a result, there are several reasons many would rather see any team other than the Heat win a championship -- and why the Bulls hate losing to them the most.
The moment James concluded his "free-agent tour" with a one-hour announcement that he would be joining Wade and Bosh in Miami, he not only alienated Cleveland Cavaliers fans but also created an entirely new group of loathers. This group was disgusted by James appearing so narcissistic and detached from reality.
The fact that he would be teaming up with two superstars added insult to injury. This was not like Garnett giving his blood, sweat, and tears to an organization for 12 fruitless seasons before joining Allen and Pierce in Boston. This was a superstar bailing in the prime of his career, despite the Cavs having recently made it to the NBA Finals and being one of the top teams in the East.
The bold proclamations of multiple championships that followed only added fuel to the fire. In an instant, a large majority of NBA fans began to cheer not only for their respective teams but also for whatever team was playing against the Heat.
Bulls center Joakim Noah has not been shy about expressing how much he dislikes the Heat. He even famously labeled the team "Hollywood as hell" not too long ago. This is likely the general public sentiment as well. There seems to be a disconnect between Heat players and the common man.
People hate the dancing and showboating. Remember James and Wade allegedly mocking Dirk Nowitzki's sickness during the NBA Finals? Remember the elaborate handshakes and premature celebrations during the series that Miami eventually went on to lose? How about James insinuating that despite losing, his life is still better than those that criticize him? This is being "Hollywood."
Such cockiness, antics, and brash behavior are huge turnoffs among fans. Most cannot relate to such a sense of entitlement. Miami is the polar opposite of a Bulls team perceived to be hard-working and humble. It's no wonder they don't like each other.
The Rich Get Richer
Society loves to root for the underdog, and Miami is the furthest thing from it. Not only are there three superstars on the team, but players with difference-making ability line up to join them. Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, and Rashard Lewis could have all made more money elsewhere, but chose the Heat. They could have played larger roles on another team, but took their talents to South Beach instead. Sure, the Heat took a chance on often injured Greg Oden, but there were several organizations willing to take that chance.
Parity is good for competition. Miami, however, is the equivalent of a privileged "fat cat" in the NBA, sitting up, continuing to eat -- while the Bulls and many other teams are left picking through leftovers.
This is not the Heat's fault. The franchise is not forcing anyone to sign with it, and players are entitled to play wherever they desire. Nonetheless, this is yet another reason that non-Heat fans do not want to see them win. They feel as though the success has been bought and not built.
Jay-Z once referenced bewilderment in a song about people hating him, despite having made himself so easy to love. The opposite can be wondered about the Miami Heat and its players. How can you love them, when they've made themselves so easy to hate?
To the credit of James, he has softened his image since initially joining the team. After appearing more self-aware, and expressing remorse for having been admittedly immature, the contempt for James and the Heat seems to have subsided a bit -- just a bit, though.
It is also important to note that while Noah called the team Hollywood, he also acknowledged that Miami is very good. No one can deny their greatness. You must respect them as team, and the Bulls obviously do. But for as long as this currently constructed Heat squad remains intact, there will be a little added hostility when competing against them.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
More from this contributor:
- Sports & Recreation
- Miami Heat
- Chicago Bulls
- Dwyane Wade
- LeBron James
- Chris Bosh