Charles Barkley admitted on Wednesday that he "can't root for" the Miami Heat. And Charles Barkley, for whatever this says about us, is the voice of the people.
He's not some manipulative Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes-type, taking advantage of us on his way to (nearly) the top, and he doesn't parse his words out carefully to make us feel as if we all have a friend as the top voice on radio and/or TV. He's just a guy that, despite our obvious differences, seems to often say exactly what's on our minds. Like, despite what the Miami fans in the comments section will tell you, what a lot of us are thinking about the Miami Heat.
Right or wrong, few are rooting for this team. I, honestly, am rooting for great basketball for seven games, but as long as the Heat continue to play poor basketball down the stretch of losses, how can you not at least prefer (if not root) for a Mavericks team working with its likely last chance at a title? Especially when hounded by the Heat's martyrdom and boorish fans that didn't seem to be there last year?
On Wednesday, this is what Barkley had to say about the Heat, on ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago:
"Listen, if the Miami Heat were playing the Washington Generals I would pick the Washington Generals," Barkley said with a chuckle. "It's something about that team that annoys me.
"They just a whiny bunch and I can't root for them."
(Before we react, it should be pointed out that the Washington Generals were nice, amiable guys even in defeat. No heels, there.)
Mind you, this is coming off a Mavericks win. It wasn't as if Miami just pulled out a close game, breaking Barkley's heart (and, some would be left to guess, a small personal investment of his own), and Charles was reacting to that frustration. No, he's saying these harsh things even as the Heat walk toward the locker room while shoegazing after a defeat.
Sir Charles turned the rusty knife after that:
"Yeah, they have the worst fans. No question. It's not even loud in there. You're at the game and you are like, 'Man this place isn't even loud.' At least when you go to Chicago, it's loud in there, it's crazy down in Dallas but it's not even loud in Miami."
In Miami fans' defense, I've watched as some of them show up in our BDL Chats, and there are some knowledgeable, articulate, and intense backers that do right by the Heat. But, in Charles' defense, a scribe like me (that has to deal with 30 teams) had heard from more Charlotte Bobcat fans that Miami Heat fans in the years leading up to 2010-11.
That's not a stereotype. These Heat fans just didn't seem to be out there until Miami started winning, and the overwhelming majority don't seem to mirror the knowledge and tact of the few sound Heat fans that I've heard from. And I'm sure some of the deeper-rooted Heat fans amongst us can agree that the new kids who don't even remember that Keith Askins (or, as they call him, "the guy with the bow tie on the bench") used to be the team's wing stopper aren't exactly on the up and up.
Heat fans? Stop with the boorishness, and prove us wrong.
Heat players? Lead the way. LeBron James did well to start it off on the right foot on Wednesday.
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