@Shot_Swatter is a die-hard Miami Heat fan and takes us through a Heat fan’s feelings after Dwyane Wade’s poor Game 3 performance.
Be sure to follow @Shot_Swatter on twitter.
There’s recently been a lot of discussion on D. Wade, in particular regarding the idea that, for the very first time since he came into the NBA in 03, he’s experiencing backlash from Heat fans. Many Miami Heat loyalists have expressed sentiments similar to the ones I put forth in some of my previous conversations with analysts. Listening to sports radio and 790 the Ticket for the past few days, several talk hosts as well as non-Heat fans have been baffled at this, denigrating Heat fans for turning against Wade, calling us disloyal and ungrateful to the man who led the Heat to their first and only Championship in 06.
As outsiders, I don’t expect them to understand. I don’t expect them to see why Heat fans are irritated with Wade and his lackluster performances in the playoffs. Because to understand the fan reaction, one must recognize and appreciate the underlying storylines that drive our relationship with our beloved Miami Heat.
This was once Wade’s team. A young, athletic rookie who drove to the basket with such blistering speed that you swore he’d already broken the land speed record. At the same time, it was a group mentored by the soon-to-retire Alonzo Mourning, among the best defensive players of his generation, and legendary coach Pat Riley. That storyline, that arc of Heat history, reached a unfathomably exhilarating climax in 06, when our team rallied to a historic comeback win in the NBA Finals. It was led by possibly the most beloved athlete in South Florida since Dan Marino himself, Dwyane Wade—the Flash.
We loved Wade then, we love him now, and we will tell stories about his play on the court for generations to come. But what needs to be understood, and what I hope to relay to those who aren’t as emotionally invested in the Heat as we are, is that storyline ended with the 2006 Championship.Wade was the hero of his story, and it ended in majestic fashion–in ultimate triumph. But just as basketball is game of runs on the court, it’s an intricate narrative of ever-evolving and entangling storylines off the court. And since the summer of 2010, there has been a new arc of history guiding this team. A new cast of characters, a new protagonist, and a new goal.
That protagonist is now one Mr. Lebron James. A 3-time MVP who came into the league with unprecedented hype, many questioning whether he could ever live up to any of the expectations that had been placed on him by scouts, coaches, and onlookers. He has lived up to and exceeded each and every one of those expectations since the first day he stepped on an NBA court. James led a group of scrubs, almost a bunch of homeless dudes plucked off the street, singlehandedly to the Finals in 07. He led his team to back-to-back 60 win season, and deep into the playoffs year after year.
But despite all his successes, he never could do the one thing that was eventually called for, the highest test for any athlete—the test of history. Win the Championship, Lebron, they clamored, or all of this means nothing. You will fall into the annals of history, Lebron; to save yourself, to become who you were born to be, you must hoist the Larry O’Brien. Every year for seven years he came close, but each time he fell short. Year after year, the most talented player of his era, failed.
Lebron James arrived at Miami, inciting the seething hatred of an entire nation, enduring earth-shaking boos with every touch of the ball, in order to fulfill his destiny–to compete his yet incomplete storyline. He went through fire his first season, the most criticized player on the most criticized team in possibly the history of American sports. And at the end of the season, he failed yet again. Shakespeare could not pen worse tragedies than this. Lebron gave up everything a man could ever want–money, love, peace of mind–to do what he knew he must. And his failure last season only makes his story all the more compelling, all the more urgent.
Heat fans are enraged at Dwyane Wade not out of disloyalty or a blind, cold-hearted desire to win, but because his failure to perform brings a premature end to perhaps the most compelling storyline of the last fifteen years in the NBA: Lebron James’ path to his first Championship. Understand that this is no longer Wade’s story, though he plays an integral part it. Understand that something bigger than a ring is at stake here. We, as Heat fans, find ourselves profoundly invested in one man’s journey to write the next page in the histories of American sports. This isn’t about winning a ring or having a parade all the way down Coconut Grove. No, it’s much bigger. We are in the midst of an epic tragedy, witnesses to a good man’s continual failure and the animosity that failure inspires, and we’re only wishing for a good ending. If and when Lebron James wins his title, this storyline will have ended, and a new one, perhaps just as interesting and exciting, will arise.
Till then, Heat Nation marches on.