As was pretty obvious by the amount of attention they received last season, the new look Miami Heat were the hottest ticket in town.
Their unparalleled media covered, travelling vortex of interest and unconscionable level of hatred all equaled big crowds every night.
Whilst Miami have been something of an interesting team for the greater part of the last decade or so, particularly following the growth of Dwyane Wade, it had never experienced anything like the franchise did last season.
The NBA had not experienced anything like the Miami Heat did last season.
In 2010 the average home crowd at the American Airlines Arena to see the Miami Heat was 17,730. This mark was in the very middle of the league’s averages, coming in at 15th place. A pretty poor effort given they were a decent playoff team with a true superstar. Clearly an after mark of the fact that Miami is very much a football city.
Nonetheless the addition of LeBron James and to a much, much, much lesser extent, Chris Bosh, meant the Heat’s averages jumped up to 19,778 per game, which was the 5th best in the NBA. Given Miami is all about it’s football, whether that be Dolphins or Hurricanes, to have the 5th best record in only the first season of the Big 3 was a tremendous achievement. I must admit I still thought the number could have been higher, but it’s a significant increase on the 2009/2010 season’s numbers.
However, their away games were of the greatest significance.
The Miami Heat are one of the NBA’s favourite visiting teams to watch, given the league’s obvious respect for players like Udonis Haslem, their former second overall pick Michael Beasley and of course Dwyane Wade. They ranked in at 4th in the league in 2010, with an average of 18,040 per away game.
Last season there was little surprise who was number one this past season. Coming in with a pretty astonishing 19,447 per away game in season 2010/2011, it’s very clear the rest of the country were more interested in seeing the Heat than their home fans were.
Everywhere the Miami Heat went was a sell out. Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Sacramento, New Orleans, and the rest of the so called ‘smaller markets’ or as I like to call them ‘Stern’s list of teams that do not matter’, all had jam packed arenas every time this ‘Hollywood as Hell’ (thanks Noah, now take a shower) team came into town.
I made the point before somewhat with tongue in cheek, but as I write this I begin to really wonder, do the rest of the league respect and have a greater interest in the Miami Heat than the city of Miami does? Do the fans that boo them prefer to see them play than the fans that flock to the American Airlines Arena to see the greatest spectacle the NBA has to offer?
Sure Miami is a football town, but when you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley, that label should be severely under threat.
The fact that they only averaged around 300 more fans at home games than away suggests to me that some of the questions I posed earlier may in fact be true.
Many have mocked the Heat’s supporters this year, calling them bandwagoners, glory supporters, fake and plenty of other similar insults. Whilst I am sure there are a number of people that fit into this category, I would say for the vast majority this simply is not true.
The fact the stadium is never full until about half time because the people of Miami are either extremely worried about being fashionably late or they have synced their clocks to all be 90 minutes slow, is another slightly confusing issue that again adds to the idea that perhaps the Heat are appreciated less by their fans than they are their opposition.
Nonetheless, despite all the hatred, all the name calling, all the taunting, all the discrimination and all the ignorance, LeBron James is still the most interesting and most watched sportsman in America, perhaps in the world.
All you haters out there have shown your true colours, at least based on these away numbers.
Deep down, we’re all LeBron James fans.
Tags: American Airlines Arena Chris Bosh Cleveland Cavaliers Dwyane Wade Lebron James Miami Dolphins Miami Heat Miami Hurricans Miami University Michael Beasley Minnesota Timberwolves NBA New Orleans Hornets NFL Oklahoma City Thunder Sacramento Kings The U Udonis Haslem