Saturday, August 14, 2010

You're Going to Hate That I Love the Heat

Rewind back to July 7th, 1996: WCW held their third annual "Bash at the Beach" pay-per-view. The event was headlined by a six man tag match of Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Sting and Lex Luger vs. "The Outsiders" Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and a mystery partner. For you non-wrestling fans, let me give you a quick summary of why this is being mentioned in a blog about the Miami Heat. "The Outsiders" Hall and Nash, formerly Razor Ramon (Latino Bad Boy) and Diesel (Tall Guy with a Mullet) in the World Wrestling Federation, entered the WCW as rebels who were trying to take over the company. Three of WCW's most popular stars Randy Savage (SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM, OH YEAHHHHH!) Sting (Face Painted Blonde) and Lex Luger (Roid Rage waiting to happen) were the defense to these outsiders. At the summer pay-per-view "Bash at the Beach" the "good" WCW guys fought the "bad" former WWF guys. However, it was a 2 vs. 3 situation, so the Outsiders got the opportunity to choose one more individual to be on their team. So the match is under way and Lex Luger has been taken to the back on a stretcher, so now it is all even at 2 on 2. The Outsiders are in control, when all of the sudden the ultimate wrestling hero, Hulk Hogan starts walking down the ramp. The crowd goes bananas thinking that Hogan is going to help defeat the bad guys for the 23,745th time of his career. Hogan gets in the ring and Hall and Nash exit immediately. Hogan stood in the ring for several seconds absorbing the cheers of the crowd and then BAM! The course of wrestling changed. Hogan leg dropped his former friend Savage a number of times, and thus creating the biggest face to heel turn in wrestling history. Hogan was the third member of The Outsiders. Over the next few years, Hogan, Nash and Hall (now the nWo- New World Order) along with other superstars that joined the group looked to take over the WCW. The nWo became the biggest heel group of all time, and Hogan went from being loved to being hated.

Fast forward 14 years and 1 day. July 8th, 2010: ESPN 9 p.m. The LeBron James Decision. Just like Hulk Hogan, LeBron James went from one of the most loved athletes to one of the most hated athletes in a matter of moments. In a matter of words really. All it took was LeBron saying "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" for the sports world to turn on the 25 year old athlete who prior to this had only been praised. He was called a traitor, a coward, selfish, and other names by Cavaliers fans that I'm not sure I could put in this blog. Even Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent a response letter out to the Cleveland fans bashing the "self titled former King". LeBron sealed his fate when he decided to have a 1 hour special telling the sports world he was going to leave his native Ohio to play for the Miami Heat. Instead of rising up and trying to lead a team to the promised land that was destined not to win, he took arguably the much easier way out to play with his friends Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Much like the nWo transformation, their is no shortage of media and fan attention on this team. They've already generated the nicknames Miami Thrice, The South Beach Super Team, Triami, The Three Kings and the Super Best Friends. In reality, they are the NBA's version of the nWo. The Heat instantly became the NBA's most hated team and there is nothing they (LeBron in particular) could do about it. Instead of fighting this and trying to get on the good side of everyone, perhaps they are better off running with the "bad guy" role and also embracing it and encouraging it. How you ask...

First, Spoelsta needs to go. He might be a good coach, but Pat Riley looks exactly like the guy who should be at the head of this villainous team. He just looks like a creep. Secondly, they need to be in EFF You mode all season long. What is this exactly? This means getting ultra prepared during the upcoming months (commitment to defense, getting used to playing together, finding certain players certain roles, etc.) Once they have all of this down it will be gametime. Every game possible they need to run the score up. They have to be full throttle every night and have the mindset of "let's win by 40 tonight". If that means playing some of the starters in the 4th quarter when up by 20 then so be it. They need to win by 40. If you are still confused about what exactly EFF You mode is, just think about the 2007 Patriots. Once everyone sees they are in EFF You mode, they will be feared.

They also need to antagonize the crowds. When they get a breakaway dunk there needs to be alot of showboating afterward, the bench needs to stand and go crazy, you get the idea. And I don't think I need to mention that when Miami plays in Cleveland there better be some chalk at the scorers table. Speaking of Cleveland, there better be serious security in Cleveland when Miami comes to town, because there is a very good chance it could get violent otherwise. You can expect that capacity crowds in opposing teams arenas will be filled and booing like never before. But no make no mistake, everyone will be watching the super villains. They can reinforce this villain theme by wearing the black uniforms (my personal favorites, and also a typical villain color) as much as possible. The nWo wore black, I see no reason why the Heat shouldn't.

About a week ago, LeBron tweeted that he was taking "Mental Notes" of everyone who has took shots at him this summer. Finally twitter benefits an athlete instead of hurting him. I believe this was a fantastic move on LeBrons part. All he has to do now is back it up. This is a terrific first step in how this Heat team can use twitter to their benefit. Say stuff and back it up. If they are going to embrace being the most hated team in sports history, they can most definitely use twitter to help their cause. You cannot convince me that the "Bad Boy" Pistons or the Portland "Jail" Blazers wouldn't have talked some serious smack in their tweets had Twitter been around in their playing era. We know Bosh is up to getting involved in Twitter, LeBron has his account and so does Wade. Before every game why not talk a little trash on twitter. After a blow out win, brag about it to the twitter universe. People will get pissed and the spotlight on the Heat will be getting bigger and bigger. Exactly what those ego's want.

The final thing that Miami needs to do in order to be labelled the "Super Villains" of the NBA is win. If they aren't winning, they are just going to become losers, not super villains. It's not fun to root for a team that never wins. If they rack up wins and potentially break the single season record and win the NBA title, that's when people are going to hate the most. That's when it gets fun for the South Beach Super Team. That is when the ego's grow bigger.

Let us take a journey back to WCW. The nWo was running things big time, and who comes to the aid of the WCW? "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Why is this important? Looking back before Hogan made the heel turn and joined the nWo, he was the most popular guy in the business and Flair was the hated jerk of the company. This sound a bit familiar to anyone? Remember who everyone hated 4 years ago because of a certain incident in Colorado? KOBE BRYANT! Yes, just a few years ago LeBron was looking to take the torch from Kobe while also taking the crown of the most popular player in the league. Didn't quite happen as smoothly as I thought it would. Let's look at the WCW situation. What happened was Flair became the popular guy who the fans loved while Hogan was now hated. That sounds familiar. As soon as LeBron quit on the Cavs and Kobe won his 2nd straight title, he is now endeared by the league and the fans while LeBron is hated. Hogan/Flair comparison acceptable? I think so.

So what exactly am I saying? I'm not predicting that the NBA scenario will play out the same way it did with WCW (considering the WCW went out of business in 2001). I'm simply saying that the Heat are the nWo of the NBA, and that is not a bad thing. Why should we expect LeBron, Wade and Bosh to be the good guys? Maybe its more fun for people to hate them. That could be exactly what LeBron needed to light a fire under his ass. While everyone is hating on the Heat, I'm going to be sitting back and enjoying the show. Hopefully I'll be one of the few who is happy about the outcome of this NBA season.