It took me a while to think about the question whether I would write this piece or not, only because of the topic.
There is no escaping it: the NBA Finals are in full swing. With the series tied at 2-2, it looks very much like this series will go seven games. You won’t hear me complain.
In this case I’m glad to say that I’m not a fan of either of the two teams. Although, having created a hate against Miami I can’t deny the fact that I’d like to see San Antonio win it all this year.
But between all the entertainment, social media awards, poster dunks and choking Lebron defense, there has been one thing one my mind more than my longing wish to see Gregg Popovich smile. Bandwagon fans.
It’s the question what makes the difference between a ‘bandwagon fan’ his non-argument and a ‘established fans’ overly-on-team-pride-based argument (or as they like to call it: founded argument).
What’s become clear this season and especially during the Play Offs is the extreme growth of the Miami fan pack. Or as the rest of the world likes to call them: Miami’s bandwagon fans. When more than half of your fan base has no idea what the name of the coach is or who played center position before 2010, in my opinion you give everybody else on this planet every right to laugh at your ticket holders.
As expected, sometimes understood and always respected, Miami fans pride themselves in the status of their team and how big they have become. But what is always left out of the conversation is the year 2010. It was not before mr. James took his talents to South Beach before the American Airlines Arena had to expand their parking lot. So how much of this growing fan club has to do with the team and how much with Lebron? If we can agree on these fans being more of a ‘Lebron-fan’ than a ‘Heat-fan’, we will be just fine.
Putting the bandwagon phenomenon out the way leaves us with the following: established fans. A worldwide group of people (mostly outside of Miami) who have been fans since Rony Seikaly and Glen Rice found their ways to pink bathing shorts and jet skis. Those are the fans that don’t mind waking up in the middle of the night to watch a game. Sure I respect that. But when does a fan like that reach the point that every argument they get in to should be won by them because of their fandom? Does being a long time supporter make you the expert on the topic?
It’s been the question I’ve been struggling with this Play Offs because of Heat fans in my close surroundings. It seemed like there is no way to convince a fan like that of your own conclusions and it might all have to do with pride. So let’s break the last 4 games down real quick.
Based on what I saw in Game 1, the Spurs deserved the win. Yes, it was a buzzer beater and it was off balance. Heat fans were screaming it was luck. But was it? Is TP9 not one of the best in the league? Did he not have the ball in his hands for a reason? In my opinion it were the fundamentals that San Antonio showed during Game 1 who won them the game. Not luck. Besides that, everybody on this planet knows that the Heat would have wanted that shot every time of the day. And then it wouldn’t be luck. Then we would be witnesses of Lebron’s greatness.
And Lebron knew too. While Heat fans took shelter from all the heat they had to take from Spurs fans, Lebron got ready for Game 2.
It was not until a few minutes before the end of Game 2 that everybody knew that he was not ready enough. The Heat won Game 2 and they deserved it. The smothering defense they used was something the Spurs couldn’t handle and when James got stuck on only 17 points on the game it had to be the bench to get them to the finish line. With Miller, Allen and Chalmers going 7 from 10 behind the arc you don’t have to worry about the win. It’s just not Lebron who does it.
Heat fans came out of their trenches and pulled out the all known slurs. ‘Heat in 5!’, ‘Lebron will crush you!’, ‘Witness Miami!’ and ‘It should be 2-0!’ are only a few of the things that came out of Miami after the win. All pumped up because of one blow out win.
Game 3 was only a few hours away when Lebron was addressing the press. Everybody wanted to know when he would take over these Finals. ‘We need to go up 2-1 and I will have to carry this team if we want to get there’ was his response.
The Spurs responded with fundamental, spaced basketball and 16 three-pointers. A 36 point blow out.
Heat fans got back in their dug holes. But came out quicker than expected.
‘It was not the Spurs who played an excellent game. It were the Heat who played bad!’
So let’s get this right. When the Heat get a game, it’s because they played great. But when the Spurs win, it has nothing to do with how they play? It’s all about how bad the Heat were? Mind boggling to me.
And now, after a defensive Game 4, the Heat fans are screaming louder than before. Now all the narratives reverse. Suddenly, the Big Three is “unstoppable” again. That’s the swing of a good NBA Finals. To me, the Heat played a good game. Nothing more. Yes, Wade looked like his old self and Bosh found his defensive ‘on’ button. But was it all that great? Before tonight, last time Miami’s Big 3 scored 20 points each in same game was 3/15 versus Milwaukee. James 28 points, Wade 20 points, Bosh 28 points that game. To me, Game 4 was just a game where they scored more than they did before. To Miami fans, not so much.
‘It was beautiful! The decisive run came in the 4th quarter, when Lebron was already on the bench.’ As if they don’t need him. But when your best player only gets 20 points on average per game where he should get 30, you don’t really want him on the court, do you?
Wade was on fire. But before tonight, the last time James & Wade had 30 points each in same game was 2/26 versus Sacramento (!). Wade had 39 points, James had 40 points that night. But Wade hasn’t been that hot before in these Finals. His knee has been bothering him. So how did he suddenly become all Flash again?
We all know the answer to that, so here is my uninformed medical opinion: If Wade can resurrect, so can Manu. It will get interesting before Game 5.
I still can’t see where I have to draw the line between good arguments or just pride-based-stupidity. Please help. Until then, I’m gonna watch all the Warriors and Pacers games again.
Bulls in 7.