For one of the stronger words in the English language, “hate” doesn’t get used very well. It can still describe what it is meant to describe, but it can also—and more often does—describe offhand distaste directed at a distant powerful person. The Reverend Fred Phelps, toting a God Hates Fags placard outside a military funeral and resembling a sack of defective vinegar stuffed into in an old Apex One Kansas Jayhawks windbreaker, is inarguably a hater. But so, somehow, is someone who points out on Twitter that Justin Bieber looks like the young Ally Sheedy. The former is a bile-pickled hemorrhoid who legitimately thinks that every bad thing that happens on earth can be traced back, in terms of causality, to Will and Grace. The latter is someone carping or snarking or otherwise goofing on an unassailably distant figure—and, in the example above, stating a fact, give or take Sheedy’s prominent chin.
Losing the meaning of “hate” is a failing of language, mostly, and a failure sloppy and stupid enough to impact other things. So it’s complicated, at least with regards to the Miami Heat, figuring out which kind of hater to be. Complicated all the way through, from their ghoulish fashion-victim fan base—cokey nightmare club promoters and aspiring Pitbulls and creepo bronzed Viagrified sexagenarians and Jeremy Piven Awful White Guy Hat-enthusiasts, the lot of them—to their stars: tiny-eyed superhuman LeBron James, grown-up cartoon dinosaur Chris “Littlefoot” Bosh, and Kanye-esque Mean Girl-in-Chief Dwyane Wade. The Heat are the NBA Champions, becoming so on Thursday night by playing crushingly confident, precise, and forceful basketball. When they play their best, they’re astounding in a way even most NBA champions aren’t—they dominate even excellent opponents through sheer virtuosic force.
Miami is too big and too fast and too good. It’s unsettling, if only because this is the sort of thing fans are more used to seeing in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament—when Kentucky or North Carolina or some other layover destination for rising NBA rookies dunks to death a team of stringbeany HBCU dudes or dismembers the bushy-headed Taylors and Seans of some Midwestern directional school. It is not supposed to happen in the NBA Finals, against the NBA’s other best team.
The Heat are, despite all that or because of it, neither widely liked nor broadly likable. Because they are colossal and colossally self-important—said self regard does much to make the talent look ridiculous, even with that trophy in the case—the Heat have, in the Bieber-Sheedy/internet sense of the word, haters. But, for our own sake, we owe it to ourselves not to hate-hate them. Hate on them all you like—that’s not really hate, it’s just pointing out LeBron and Dem act like entitled creeps much of the time with puffed-up bitchy-bully behavior when they’re winning and prickly prissiness when they lose.
Welcome to the NBA Finals
This NBA season was delayed by a lockout. That’s a nice way of saying “it turned into a fixed tug of war between tall guys and some of America’s pissiest and worst rich people.” As a result, the entire season was more or less defined by bad vibes and it suffered the sort of gnarly injuries that happen when bodies are asked to play three games of NBA basketball in four nights. This meant numerous cases of sudden knee-backwardness, abrupt dissolutions of various important ligaments, and other assorted breakdowns. It was a strange season, in short, but it gave way to a surprising, fascinating, and just-unexpected-enough postseason. We covered the basics of the NBA Playoffs fairly recently, but with the NBA Finals tipping off on Tuesday this seems as good a time as any to get fans and non-fans up to speed with what will be at stake when the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder do battle to determine which team will be able to call itself Champions of That One Year When the Season Started at Christmas Because the Leatherette Buttsteak Owner of the Suns Wanted to Prove Some Dim Dittohead Point About Unions or Whatever.
The Miami Heat! I hate those guys! Right?
I don’t know, maybe? They’re not necessarily likable to anyone who didn’t listen to Watch the Throne and instantly be all, “That is so true, that is so my life. New watch alert, I KNOW!” They’re really good and really self-obsessed and their stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have a hilarious tendency to wear fancy eyeglass frames with either clear lenses or no lenses in them. James and Wade are bold and ridiculous enough to give interviews about how their wearing $500 eyeglasses as bro-accessories (broccesories?) has some sort of coded “it’s cool to be smart” message. Basically, if you want Kanye West to win the NBA championship and then dedicate the title to his mostly imaginary haters who thought it would never happen and then cry about it and then buy a new, slightly larger private plane and fill it with cocaine and models and then pilot it into John Galliano’s pool and then talk about how no one understands how or why he crashes planes into pools because they don’t get him and could never be him because they’re not built for that shit, then you should cheer for the Heat.
Wow, OK. So I’m pulling for the Thunder?
The short answer is yes, and the long answer is “yes, but it’s complicated because they are very much in every possible way a professional sports team from Oklahoma City, with all the crass petro-douchery and weirdly aggro passive aggression that entails.” But from a basketball perspective, they’ve got some really great players, but also depend on an assortment of misfits and specialists to do a lot of important things. If the Heat feel, as a team, like two Kanyes berating a bunch of nervous personal assistants for mispronouncing various luxury brands, the Thunder feel, look, and work like a basketball team—various players of different levels of talent happily doing their respective things in pursuit of a common goal. There’s something inspiring about it.
Neat. But the basketball perspective is not what I’m interested in. What is up with LeBron James’s tiny blank eyes? Is he some sort of super-buff stuffed animal prototype?
That is a good question. We will update you with any comments from Gund if and when we hear anything on the eyeball issue. But for all the unintentionally comic things about LeBron, from his Rudy Giuliani hairline to his prickly-prissy grandiosity, the biggest bummer about the dude is that he is basically the best basketball player we’ve seen in a generation, and is also a weepy, thwarted doofus who manages to make being great at a super-exciting sport look as bleak as a tax season gig at H.R. Block.
“One 15-year-old boy I met was preparing a Grad-missile truck for battle. Beaming, he wondered whether I could “ask Clinton and Obama for new weapons” so that they could beat Gaddafi and he could fulfill his dream of playing for the Miami Heat or the Dallas Mavericks.”
The Rebels of Libya, Part 5