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Posted: Wednesday July 28, 2010 11:41AM ; Updated: Wednesday July 28, 2010 11:41AM

No choice but to hate the Heat

Story Highlights

LeBron's decision to join the Heat made my decision to hate them an easy one

It wasn't just his decision, but the afterparties, the welcoming celebrations

The large number of sudden Heat fans is astounding ... and, well, sickening

By Phil Taylor, SI.com

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The pre-planned unveiling of Miami's Big Three left something to be desired.
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Like much of America, I suddenly find myself hating the Miami Heat. It's not so much that I want to hate them, it's more that I have no choice. I hate the Heat because of what I love.

I love gifted players who want to chase greatness, and so I hate the Heat. I hate the way LeBron James has chosen to be Gilligan instead of the Professor. At 25, James is far too young to back away from the challenge of trying to lead a team to a title, which is what he has done by teaming up with with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. I thought he wanted to test the limits of his ability. I hate that I was wrong about him.

I love teams that walk it before they talk it, and so I hate the Heat. I hate that preening, cocky, over-the-top welcoming celebration they had in Miami. Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would have arrived with less fanfare. The Heat's trio and their fans seem to be under the impression that they have already won something. I hope every one of their opponents watches a replay of that extravaganza on the locker room flatscreen just before they take the floor against the Heat, for a little extra motivation. I hate teams that congratulate themselves before they've earned it.

I love the concept of true sacrifice, and so I hate the Heat. I hate that the Three My-Egos are being painted as a bunch of Mother Teresas who have taken a vow of poverty when all they've done is forego a small percentage of what are still obscenely huge salaries. I hate that we have become so accustomed to the overwhelming greed of superstar athletes that when the Heat's threesome accepts roughly $110 million each when they could have had closer to $120 million, some people want to fit them for angels' wings.

I love a competitively balanced league in which the biggest stars have the fiercest rivalries, and so I hate the Heat. I hate that this may be the beginning of franchise players making a mad dash to team up and consolidate most of the best players on just a few teams. Already Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony reportedly have visions of joining Amar'e Stoudemire in New York to form another three-headed monster. If the NBA turns into a top-heavy league, I'll hate the Heat even more for starting the process.

I love fans who have an emotional attachment to one team and stay faithful to that team, win or lose, and so I hate the Heat. They have given front-runner fans a new bandwagon to jump on. People who couldn't have named a single one of Wade's teammates weeks ago will now declare themselves to be Heat lovers, decking themselves out in Miami gear with cutesy phrases like Miami Thrice and the Three Basketeers. All those fans who like the Yankees just because they win, or were devoted to the Bulls until Michael Jordan left, are now going to come out of the woodwork and swear their undying love to the Heat. I hate that.

The strange thing is that I've always liked Bosh, James and Wade individually. But I hate the way they formed this group, which means there's going to be a lot to hate about this NBA season. Unless, of course, the Heat fail to win the title that they seem to think is a formality. That, I would love.

 
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