04ce54b5dffd9210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2010-07How to become a team that fans love to hatef3ce54b5dffd9210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____How to become a team that fans love to hateWith the showboat way that James joined the Heat, the spill-over is that many fans are transferring their distaste for his move to his new team.<p>Basketball fans around the world cringed last week when LeBron James announced on The Decision, a one-hour televised monument to his own grandeur, that he would abandon the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.
It seems clear that nearly everyone familiar with the NBA thought James's team choice to be a mistake, and the manner of his disseminating that choice a blunder of historic proportions.</p>
<p>What was not so instantly apparent is what his decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his fellow young stars in Miami has done to the Heat's national (and perhaps international) perception. In those few moments, James may have contrived to elevate the Heat into the select fraternity of sports teams that Americans love to hate.
The Heat were created in 1988, and did not do much of note until winning the 2006 NBA championship with Wade and Shaquille O'Neal leading the way on the court, and Pat Riley, the coach who previously led the Lakers and Knicks, directing the show.</p>
<p>But not even that title brought the club the same notoriety as did the coup they staged by signing James, Wade and Bosh to six-year pacts worth a combined $328 million (Dh1.2 billion).
You might believe that all is well in Miami, and it is, in terms of rounding up the three young stars.
But with the showboat way that James joined the Heat, the spill-over is that many fans are transferring their distaste for his move to his new team.</p>
<p>The Heat may have joined the New York Yankees of baseball, the Duke Blue Devils of college basketball and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of college football as US teams almost reflexively despised.
Let us examine a checklist of qualities necessary to generate widespread loathing.
• You need to win, often, to be disliked. The Yankees have won 26 championships. Duke have won four and Notre Dame 11. The Heat have the one title, so perhaps it is the expectation of lots of winning that lets them tick off this box.</p>
<p>• You need to have an unpopular owner, coach or star player. The Yankees had George Steinbrenner, the late owner, and now have Alex Rodriguez, the third baseman. Both are winners, but both were despised outside (and sometimes inside) New York City. Duke have Mike Krzyzweski, the coach, who is hard to not like, but they have had a string of annoying star players. Notre Dame's least likeable element is probably their extremely loud and self-satisfied fan base. The Heat now have James who made himself profoundly unpopular almost overnight.</p>
<p>• The team must seem to attract an unfair proportion of media attention. The Yankees, Duke and Notre Dame all fit this category. Their games appear on US national TV far more often than other teams, and viewers repeatedly hear about the storied past of each franchise. The Heat do not have the history for the media to embrace, but they will be on TV repeatedly next season. Even as many fans already seem jaded by the James-to-Miami storyline.</p>
<p>Most fans want to see the most interesting teams in the NBA finals, and the new Heat fill that bill. But the dark side of many sports fans also wants to see this NBA version of the schoolyard bully get taken down when they are within grasp of a title.
Many fans liked James before. Perhaps they will again soon. He cannot be blamed for relocating to a warm city on the water.
But right now rooting for the Heat is like rooting for Bill Gates to win the lottery.