The Miami Heat got the living piss kicked out of them by what is being hailed as the new ‘America’s Team’, the Dallas Mavericks. Why are they hailed as such? Because the Mavericks defeated what eventually rose in the mind of society as an unbeatable, obnoxiously inflated and ego-driven giant of a sports team–a living image of success bought and not earned.
These accusations are all true. Right? Right. So surely it must also be true that the Miami Heat dominated in a league where remaining were a mere bunch of mom-and-pop teams that embraced nothing but a warm and cozy idea of heart, perseverance and fans-come-first, egoless teamwork.
Yes, so valiant and devoted were these down-and-out teams that the idea of planning success the way the Heat did–through good timing, past friendships and behind-the-scenes deals–was schemingly preposterous and cheap in a league that functions in a completely opposite fashion…
Of course, this is not how the NBA operates; nor has it ever been the way it’s operated since athletes made close to, if not as much money from the shoes they wore as they do from the organizations they play for.
We, the modern sports fan, have been convinced by the businesses that run every league and virtually every popular sports team that we ought to care deeply about a bunch of strangers who we’re told identify with and fight for us and our city. I thought most fans already knew this. I thought they just chose to forget it the way I often do because I merely want to be entertained. Getting into sports, after all, and rooting for a home team and all that bullshit is fun.
Still, I was a much bigger follower of sports when I was a kid, when the truth of the whole thing was less clear to me.
I mention all this because despite their frequent displays of arrogance and immaturity as a team, the Miami Heat are merely a symptom of a horribly superficial engine that lies at the core of not just the NBA but of all professional sports. The Heat have thus become something of a whipping boy for the NBA. They are a scapegoat for the majority that cannot accept that the problem lies in their precious league and not in some bratty southeastern team they don’t have to care about.
The Dallas Mavericks proved something very wonderful, still. They proved that while money and business giants can increase a team’s success, they cannot guarantee it. They showed that there may yet be hope in sports for those ‘Rudy’-esque ideas of passion and perseverance, and for the very real and human desire for victory and personal glory. Perhaps last night’s game will somehow spark an initiative among the powers-that-be to restore professional sports to some of its original authenticity. It’s a longshot.
As for the Heat and everything they did this year, that is, acquiring three superstars and getting more than a little cocky in the process; look me in the eyes and tell me the team that wouldn’t have done the exact same thing given the opportunity, and you’ve got my attention.