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DeFranks: Bring on the Heat hate (Nov. 29)

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, November 28, 2011

Let’s get one thing straight here: I am a Miami Heat fan.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, the season hasn’t even officially been OK-ed yet and we already have an uneducated, band-wagon Heat fan.” But that’s not what I’m about.

I realize LeBron James disappointed in the Finals and Chris Bosh cried in the tunnel and Dwyane Wade mocked Dirk Nowitzki and Erik Spoelstra still looks like the video coordinator he was a few years ago. But that was year one.

Now comes year two, where expectations are higher. “The Decision” has been mostly forgotten and the center position is still very thin.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. The Heat were so close last year in the Finals against the Mavericks. Late-game collapses in Games Two and Four ultimately sank the Heat, who very well could have swept the series.

So do they really need a top-flight center when Bosh, Udonis Haslem and, gasp, Joel Anthony almost won them a title? Do they really need a superb point guard when James and Wade handle the ball so frequently and when Mario Chalmers (assuming they re-sign him) knocks down the occasional three-pointer?

Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Some questions undoubtedly remain for the defending Eastern Conference champions but following a lockout that shortened the season by 16 games, every team has some flaws.

Regardless, the haters will reemerge to rip Pat Riley’s organization, Spoelstra’s schemes, James’ clutch play, Bosh’s toughness, Wade’s foul calls and the team’s fans once Miami loses a few games.

But that is perfectly OK with me. Bring on the hate.

Bring it on, Chicago. Prove that Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng can become the players they have the potential to be. Prove that last year’s regular season was not a fluke. Prove that blowing a 12-point lead the last four minutes of an elimination game at home was an anomaly.

Bring it on, Boston. Prove that an aging Goliath can return to form. Prove that Rajon Rondo finally has a jump-shot. Prove that your Big Three is better than Miami’s Big Three.

Bring it on, Orlando. Prove that Dwight Howard is the next great big man. Prove that you can keep him. Prove that shooting 26 threes a game is a viable strategy. Prove that you can hang with the big boys in the East.

Bring it on, New York. You can try to play some defense or you can wait for Chris Paul. Your choice.

Bring it on, Los Angeles. Kobe, tell me how the sweep tastes.

Bring it on, Atlanta. Supposedly, they’re a division rival. I guess I’ll stop picking on the perennial fifth-seed in the East.

Bring it on, Cleveland. Too soon? Well, good luck with Kyrie Irving.

Bring it on, Dallas. See you Christmas Day. You don’t have to prove anything.

I am about loving the Heat. I am about loving the hate.

So, here’s a warm welcome back to the NBA. A welcome back to the Miami Heat. A welcome back to the Miami Heat hate.

I’ve missed you.



Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected].

The views expressed in the Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.