Whether booing or cheering, everyone is watching Miami

LeBron's move to Miami is obvious good for the Heat, but it works in the NBA's favor, too.

LeBron's move to Miami is obvious good for the Heat, but it works in the NBA's favor, too.

They are being booed. OK, more specifically, he is being booed. Constantly. Vociferously. Unanimously.

But you know what? Something else is happening here with LeBron James and the Heat. Nobody can look away. Even the greatest haters can’t and won’t give them the rudest treatment possible. Which is to say, LeBron and his mates aren’t being ignored (unlike, for example, the Knicks over the last decade in New York, but that’s another story, another day).

People are showing up, people are tuning in. People are watching, analyzing, weighing, speculating, crystal-balling, debating, pontificating (Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s favorite word), hoping, cheering (well, only in Miami) and definitely wondering about the Heat. Which means one thing, of course.

LeBron going to Miami was not good business for Cleveland. But it’s been great business for the NBA.

Suddenly, there’s another glamour team, whereas before, only the Lakers and Celtics qualified. The TV ratings for Heat games are massive and unheard of for autumn, where the NBA must compete with the World Series and the NFL. All the buildup and hype generated by “The Decision” has followed the Heat into the season, giving the NBA a boost in the visibility department and perhaps the trickle-down effect is being felt in merchandise sales and other revenue streams.

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Would this have happened if LeBron said he was taking his talents back to The Flats or the Rock-N-Roll museum? Probably not. With LeBron staying put, it would’ve been business as usual.

So: While LeBron is still being vilified for his decision and how he made it, and as traditionalists turned up their noses at the idea of superstars coming together, and while a good segment of the NBA universe apparently has chosen Miami as some sort of public enemy, this is the best thing to happen to the NBA since Michael Jordan retired. That’s because the casual basketball fan is migrating back to the game, piqued by the drama surrounding the Heat.

David Stern, a marketer at heart, even admitted as much on a recent visit to Miami, where he attended the home opener.

“These roster changes in Miami have certainly occasioned a fair amount of publicity, and it’s kind of fun to watch all the speculation and the combination of ‘mail the trophy to Miami’ or not and ‘play the season’ or not,” Stern said. “They’re going to have an interesting season because the expectations are very high.”

Stern said he didn’t have a dog in the fight last summer, when LeBron was weighing whether to stay or go. And while the commissioner wasn’t very big on the one-hour televised special, he did defend LeBron’s right to choose, something plenty of folks had a problem with.

“When somebody gets to be a free agent — having been drafted, signed his first contract, spent seven years someplace and now has the opportunity to go where he wants to go — I think that’s just fine.”

Given his pledge to neutrality — which is in any commissioner’s job description — Stern can’t come out and say LeBron moving to Miami was better, from a league standpoint, than LeBron staying in Cleveland. And maybe Stern doesn’t feel that’s the case, anyway. But any objective basketball observer would emphatically agree.

That’s because Miami is a magnet for attention. In a league of 30 teams, how many others have a national following, besides the Lakers and Celtics? Orlando and Oklahoma City? Are those two teams really mesmerizing beyond their regional fan bases? Anyone else? How many times did the Spurs and Tim Duncan reach the NBA Finals, only to fetch meager ratings?

What LeBron and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gave Miami, and by extension the league, was another crown jewel. Sure, the attention lavished on LeBron is mostly negative, which isn’t exactly what a league wants for one of its star players (how would the NFL accept Peyton Manning being cast as a villain? Or the NHL with Sidney Crosby?). The NBA does not want, for example, LeBron’s Nike commercial being lampooned on the internet and in the media. And his upcoming return to Cleveland will make for a most uncomfortable moment, not only for LeBron, but the league. You can almost see the buildup now: Come see LeBron get hated on! There will be a collective cringe coming from league headquarters on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

But is “bad” publicity better than none? In a sports world filled with declining revenues and ratings, and sagging attendance, and fierce competition for the entertainment dollar, sometimes you simply accept it for what it is, as long as the “bad publicity” doesn’t stem from something truly negative. LeBron going back to take abuse from Cleveland fans who feel betrayed doesn’t fit that description.

Besides, and Stern knows this, the anti-LeBron movement will eventually lose steam. Maybe right after that first appearance in Cleveland. The booing will subside and people will move on with their lives. The interest in the Heat, however, should continue to thrive as long as they continue to win. Which they will.

Therefore, the mantra, when it comes to the Heat is simply this: Watch and root against them, if you will. As long as you watch.

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About eshaan00
Fan of sports. Like to play football, cricket, badminton etc. I can,t talk nicely like others. But a good listener. Like to have true friend.

One Response to Whether booing or cheering, everyone is watching Miami

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Whether booing or cheering, everyone is watching Miami « SportsBox -- Topsy.com

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