|ESPN.com: Page 2||[Print without images]|
The Miami Heat cried after losing to the Chicago Bulls. Or at least some of them did. Or at least some of them had tears in their eyes, based on Erik Spoelstra's latest comments. We don't know what really happened.
But the public now believes they cried. Crying is one of sports' seven deadly sins. Athletes can do many things -- even commit crimes -- and, right or wrong, fans will generally forgive and forget. But crying? No one forgets that.
The problem is: The Heat are quickly checking off all seven deadly sins that an athlete can never live down. It's part of the reason so many people are rooting against them.
The problem: We want athletes to show emotion. To show they care. But whoa whoa are you crying? You're crying? Seriously? Please. Please stop. You are humiliating yourself.
The Heat: The Heat cried. That has sort of been covered in the past few days. Chris Bosh even looked teary-eyed after their loss to the Spurs on Friday. In fact, everyone assumed he was the crier after Sunday's game, to the point that he stated that it wasn't him. So we're nearing the NBA playoffs and Bosh's Heat role has been crystallized as The Guy Who Was Probably Crying. Great signing!
The problem: Dance, preen, talk. Fine. Just win something first. It's the same reason T.Ocho is so unpopular. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco have never gotten into trouble off the field, yet they're among the NFL's most hated players.
The Heat: Not that you could forget, but remember that this is how we were introduced to the new Heat. Eight months later they're crying after a regular-season loss. Run that backward -- tears followed by celebration in front of the home fans -- and you have the plot of every paint-by-numbers sports movie. The Heat would be the good guys. But instead they're the movie team's hated opponent: They started out cocky and ended up in tears. Everyone keeps wondering what piece the Heat are missing. Maybe it's Mick McAllister.
The problem: Losing is fine. Even losing a lot is OK as long as you give your best effort, no matter how inadequate it might be. Fans just don't like seeing an athlete give less than 100 percent. I mean 110 percent. Fans don't like seeing an athlete give less than 110 percent.
The Heat: Everyone in the world except LeBron James thinks LeBron quit in Game 5 of the conference semifinals last season against the Celtics. He will never live that down. And maybe LeBron would agree he quit, too, but perhaps like the word "contraction," he doesn't know what "quit" means.
The problem: Again, losing is not a great sin. But fans respect players who at least lose with toughness. Flopping is probably a bigger barricade to soccer's growth in the U.S. than anything else. Americans don't want our traditional sports flop-icized.
The Heat: Bosh sprained his ankle in January when Bulls rookie Omer Asik fell into him while diving after a loose ball. A great hustle play by Asik? Not in Bosh's world. "C'mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen," Bosh said. "You've got to watch people's legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job."
Yes, he had that thought in his head and decided to let it come out of his mouth, perhaps to forever dispel any remaining notions that he might not be soft.
But being soft could actually help the Heat in the long run. As their struggles have increased, some NBA experts have suggested they look to model themselves after the 2006 NBA champion Heat team. And by that I assume they mean: have Dwyane Wade fall over backward to draw a foul any time anyone gets within a three-foot radius of him.
The problem: No one expects athletes -- or anyone -- to be up on all the current events. But don't flaunt how aloof you are.
The Heat: Here is Bosh Tweeting on June 11: "Is that oil spill still going? Seriously How long has it been now?" Pretty long, Chris. Pretty long.
Here is LeBron Tweeting last week: "20+ games left in phase 2. I'm ReFOCUSED! No prisoners, I have no friends when at WAR besides my Soldiers." Sgt. Kellen Winslow? You've got yourself a new recruit!
And then on Sunday, Wade whined that the world is a happier place when the Heat lose. If the Heat make one change, it shouldn't be firing Spoelstra, it should be banning their players from Twitter.
The problem: Professional athletes are essentially paid millions of dollars to be in shape. So when an athlete has a bigger gut than the average working schlub, it bothers people.
The Heat: The Heat have many problems, but physical fitness (currently) isn't one. But don't forget that last year Wade showed up for the season with more than a few extra pounds, leading team president Pat Riley to criticize his physical fitness. And considering that the Heat are already crying after regular-season games, we're another loss or two away from them staying in bed for a week and eating cartons of Haagen-Dazs while watching "Sex And The City" DVDs.
The problem: Forget sports, it's a code of life itself: Never, under any circumstances, is it OK to hit someone in the crotch. Those who have done it on the basketball court -- Reggie Evans, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, unfortunately the list goes on -- will never live it down. Nor should they.
The Heat: To my knowledge, the Heat have yet to be reduced to the realm of crotch-punchers. At least literally. But Heat fans and anyone who bet on Miami to win the NBA title have to feel like they've received a direct shot to the unmentionables. May I suggest you watch the rest of the season while sitting on an ice pack.
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain-book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.
Back to Page 2