Saturday, May 14, 2011


The Miami Heat has reached the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA playoffs, and I’m sure that if you live outside of South Florida, you are probably rooting for the Chicago Bulls.
Because of what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh did last summer, which essentially was to coordinate their contract signings so they all wound up with the same team, the Heat has become the team everybody else loves to hate.
I can understand the city of Cleveland’s anger with LeBron, whose departure left the Cavaliers in a shambles, but why the rest of the country has its knickers in such a wad over this is somewhat of a mystery.
It’s not like they are the first stars in a professional sport to forsake one team for another because it enhanced their chances of winning.
Sometimes the players jump directly to another team. Other times they force their current team to trade them. I hardly see the difference.
I suspect some, if not most or even all, of the animosity expressed toward the Heat overall and James in particular has to do with the way James, who was a free agent, announced his decision.
He went on ESPN last summer for a one-hour special (I think it was an hour long) to do it. The whole show was a bit over the top -- no, make that a lot over the top -- and even he said he was sorry for it the other night after the Heat beat the Celtics for win their second-round series.
The response to that apology, by the way, was predictable. A poll conducted on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website showed more than 80 percent opting for “no” when asked if they accepted it. Even by non-scientific standards, that’s a pretty big margin.
Nothing I’m going to say here is going to change that perception.
There is one thing I would like to comment, however, something that kind of bugs me.
When James said he was leaving Cleveland to sign with the Heat, he said he was taking “his talents to South Beach.”
My immediate reaction: Damn. The Heat is going to have a helluva time winning then because the arena is on the other side of the bay.
The South Beach area is at the south end (where else?) of Miami Beach. AmericanAirlines Arena is near downtown Miami on the mainland.
I realize this is a distance of only three or four miles as the crow flies (a little longer by car, and hardly any of us takes a crow these days), but if he had signed with the Knicks, would he have said he was taking his talents to Times Square?
I think not.
This “South Beach” theme has even carried over into television coverage of the playoffs. I heard one announcer say we would return to South Beach after these announcements.
Most aerial shots at sporting events show the arena or stadiium and the surrounding area, but at least one the other night showed South Beach.
Well, sort of. It was shot with the bayside, where there isn’t any beach at all, in the foreground. First-time viewers must have wondered what the fuss was all about because the glamourous side of South Beach is oceanside.
You won’t hear much about South Beach during the first two games of Heat-Bulls because they will be played in Chicago. I suspect next Sunday (June 22) when the series comes to Miami you’ll hear South Beach mentioned quite often.
Maybe there will be a couple of camera shots as well.
Unfortunately, the game will tip off at 8 p.m. so it will be dark. You may catch items from the club scene, but you won’t be able to see all the “charms” South Beach has to offer after the sun goes down.

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