After the Miami Heat eliminated the Chicago Bulls to advance to the NBA Finals, Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch wrote the following on Twitter: “We are all Dallas Mavericks now.”
My informal, unscientific poll confirms this. The Miami Heat has been the villain since LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach this past offseason. Now, Miami is in the finals, which start tonight. The opponent doesn’t really matter, but it is the Dallas Mavericks.
The question I have is whether we’ve ever had a championship in which such a large majority rooted for one team. My estimate is 90 percent of viewers will be pulling for Dallas. Not only do fans of others teams hate the Heat, but Miami itself doesn’t have a strong fan base. They’ve pretended to care this season, but you should know better than to believe that. The franchise didn’t exist until 1988, a huge part of the reason for the lack of support (likewise, the Marlins came into existence in 1993, while the far more popular Dolphins have been around a lot longer, since 1966).
There is no way to answer this definitively, but it’s easier if we have some parameters. For starters, let’s only consider the three major U.S. professional sports: baseball, basketball, and football. Secondly, we’re only looking at the past 20 years.
|Generally, fans aren’t thrilled with this pairing. (Credit: Keith Allison)|
So, do you agree, or can you think of any instances in which there was even more lopsided support? Sound off in the comments section. Make your case for whatever team you’d like, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me of any title game in which the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Lakers appeared. The Yankees (who have been in the World Series seven times in the last 20 years) are an iconic franchise that has fans—and haters—across the country. Any time they take the field, there is going to be a large number of people rooting for—and against—them. The same goes for the Lakers.
The NBA: Where Choking Happens
There have been several comebacks during this postseason that have ranked among the all-time greatest in NBA playoff history. All three have involved the teams playing for the title, so perhaps we haven’t seen the last of the memorable collapses.
In the opening round, the Mavericks led the Portland Trail Blazers by 23 points in the third quarter and by 18 entering the fourth. It would be just the third time in the shot clock era that a team lost when leading by at least 18 entering the fourth. Portland’s Brandon Roy scored 18 in the final quarter as the Blazers outscored Dallas 35-15 to win Game Four 84-82.
In Game Four of the Western Conference finals, Dallas was on the other side of the comeback. Trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder by 15 with five minutes remaining, Dallas went on a 17-2 run to tie the game at 101. The Mavs did not claim their first lead until overtime, where they dominated to win 112-105.
In the East, the Chicago Bulls were in prime position to send the series back to Miami for Game Six. But the Heat closed with an 18-3 run in the final 3:03 to win 83-80.
I have no idea why 2011 has produced so many wild comebacks. The three-point shooting seems to be especially good (which makes it easier to mount a comeback), but that is purely anecdotal—the statistics don’t support that. Once again, I’m asking for your opinions: Any thoughts on why this year’s postseason has been full of comebacks?
One thought on “NBA Finals 2011: Is Anyone Rooting for Heat?”
I don't have stats to back this up, but as a polar opposite example (in which fans were actually IN FAVOR of 1 team), in 1996 when Michael Jordan had just come back, the Bulls went 72-10, and the NBA was hugely popular the world over in part because of Jordan's role in Space Jam, I'm guessing I was about the only SuperSonics fan on the planet outside of Seattle (because I admired Payton's defensive prowess)