Miami’s Bad Boys III Trio at Peace with Villainy

18 08 2010

Sports  and leagues thrive when battle lines are drawn starkly. That’s why American fans are so drawn to clear winners and losers, and why soccer is obviously a tool of socialist spies trying to get us to share with each other.

These attractive divisions also extend to good and evil. After their machinations this summer, the Miami Heat are clearly in the camp of the dark lord, piecing together a surely unbeatable squad that will threaten the 1995-96 Bulls’ record of 72 wins and treat the playoffs like their personal two-month-long birthday party. Plus, they did so with little regard for anyone else in the league, thinking little of precious competitive balance (because, you know, every NBA team always starts the season with a chance to win a championship) and, in the case of Chris Bosh and LeBron James, leaving their old teams under less-than-deal circumstances.

See you later, Kobe Bryant, you’re no longer the top villain in the NBA. Thankfully, the Heat seem to recognize their new status and aren’t here to make friends. Just check out this interview with Dwyane Wade from Matt Moore of NBA Facts and Rumors:

I understand being the villain is what people like. People play to that. They want to know about the villain. They don’t want to know about the good. They say they do, but statistics show that they don’t. The thing is, I don’t do these things for recognition, being a good teammate, being a positive member of the community. I do them because those things make me whole and complete. A lot of that negativity? It’s just speculation. You’ve gotta deal with it and move on. I’ve learned that not everyone’s going to be 100% DWade.

There’s a bizarre amalgam here of acceptance of villainy and rejection of the same. On one hand, Wade notes that he can’t please everyone no matter what he does. Then again, he also trumpets his own charitable activity while also saying that he doesn’t do them for recognition, even though this is an interview designed to draw attention to his Wade’s World Charity Weekend. That’s a brutal combination of fake humility and a lack of self-awareness.

But wait, there’s more. Heat forward and Entourage co-star Chris Bosh also did an interview that touched on Heat hate, this time with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

“It’s a healthy hate,” he said. “When the Lakers came to town, I hated the Lakers. It’s what you need as motivation to beat these guys. We know we’re going to get a team’s best every single night. We know we’re going to get the crowds best every single night. We have a big ‘X’ on our back. People are saying our team is not good for basketball. We’re going to hear everything. It’s OK. It’s going to happen. We just have to win and keep on moving.”

These comments are mostly harmless, but Bosh nonetheless is making a common argument of villains everywhere: people hate us because we’re beautiful, because they want to be us and can’t. It’s a statement of arrogance, which few like. And to make matters worse, the Heat haven’t even won anything yet.

I’ve written before about the Heat’s need to accept their villainous nature, and it appears as if they’re doing so with no problem. The league needs a good villain every once in a while, particularly if that team also wins. One of my key complaints about the Duncan-led Spurs in their prime is that they never fully embraced their villainy. (Of course, that failure has also made them somewhat lovable in their old age.)
The Heat, however, have taken on their new role with no problem. In the end, it may make them a more acceptable part of the NBA world, even if they’re hated. After all, everyone wants Hannibal Lecter to escape at the end of Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes, the villain can become more exciting than our heroes.