[Note added after writing all of this: I'm sure one or two of you out there in internetland are good, non-bandwagon Heat fans. I tried to add modifiers like "many" every time that I took cheap shots at Heat fans, so as to not throw out the good apples with the bad, but I may have missed a few spots. As PFTCommenter would say, no offense. I'm sorry the bandwagon shitheads make you actual fans look bad, and I hope you keep reading.]
So I guess we're not quite done discussing this whole frontrunning Heat fans thing, given the volume of comments on that last post. That has to be a record number for this blog as far as the last year or so goes. Sure, most of the comments in there were made by the same anonymous bozo, but it's still nice to see some participation. And while I hesitate to give that bozo the attention he wants and doesn't deserve by addressing some of his claims in a separate post, right now it seems like the thing to do. So let's dance.
1) Anonymous bozo, while I admire your perseverance, just understand that you will never be the most obnoxious and worthless anonymous bozo in FireJay history. That title will always be held by the guy in the comments to this post. Looking back, hey, how about that: in 2008, I successfully predicted that Vince Young would be out of the NFL by 2013. That took about as much skill as predicting that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow, but still. Feels good to be validated.
2) Re: the Boston fans and their behavior in game 7 against the Leafs and game 6 against the Blackhawks (side note: the fact that I'm defending Boston fans to continue this argument is nauseating). You say that the Bruins had a 0.5% chance of winning the Leafs game when they were down 4-1. I don't know where you got that, I looked around for some NHL win expectancy charts and couldn't find any, so I will accept that number as correct although I suspect it's a little high. Whatever. It's cute that you think you turned my own schtick on me by noting that HA HA THIS ARTICLE OVER HERE SAYS THERE WERE EMPTY SEATS MIDWAY THROUGH THE THIRD PERIOD, THAT'S SOMETHING YOU WOULD MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF FOR DOING IF YOU READ THAT YOU WROTE THAT AND DIDN'T KNOW YOU WROTE IT NYUCK NYUCK NYUCK. But I have a few points to make.
First of all, it's pretty dumb to say the Bruins chance at coming back was A SINGLE PERCENTAGE POINT away from being the same odds the Heat faced near the end of game 6. It is a true statement, but a much better way to put that same piece of information, given that both numbers are small, is to say that the Heat were three times more likely to come back than the Bruins were. That's more intellectually honest, don't you think? What if the Heat had a 1.1% chance and the Bruins had a 0.1% chance? Would you still try to hammer home the percentage point difference rather than the percentage difference? I hope not. I don't think anyone should leave when it's a game 7, but still, it was more rational from a mathematical perspective for those Bruins fans to leave. Three times more rational, perhaps. That's pretty significant.
Second of all, while Bruins-Leafs was a potentially season-ending game for those fans, I still say it's much worse to walk out in the championship round before the game ends than to walk out in the first round of the playoffs. And hell, check out the highlights--I'm sure the arena wasn't 100% full when they won in overtime, but it looks pretty full and sounds pretty full to me. (To be fair to the Heat fans, they didn't exactly empty their arena during game 6 either, although I'm willing to bet a lot of the people who were there for OT had left their seats, gone to the concourse and then returned when they heard all the noise during the comeback.)
Third of all, and most importantly, the scoring effects are much different in hockey than they are in basketball. In basketball, pretty much every team is going to score between 80 and 110 points in pretty much every game. More to the point, a 5 point deficit with 30 seconds left pretty much always means the exact same thing in the minds of players. We need a couple threes, need them to miss some free throws, whatever. In hockey, especially in a playoff series when a team is facing the same opposing goalie game after game after game, a three goal deficit could mean many different things. If it's the best offense in the league against a bad goalie, three goals might not be much to worry about. If it's a defensively oriented team that is used to winning low scoring games, or if the other team's goalie is hot, a three goal deficit could feel like a ten goal deficit. In that series against the Leafs, the Bruins had no trouble scoring in games one through four. But they lost games five and six by a 2-1 score. So at the time the Leafs went up 4-1 with 14 minutes left in game seven, the Bruins 1) had lost two in a row, always a bad thing in a seven game series, and more importantly 2) had scored three goals in the previous 8+ periods (and Toronto's James Reimer was no slouch, 8th in the league in save percentage during the regular season). They would then need three goals in the last 14 minutes of that period to force overtime. I think you can excuse the people who left much more easily than you can excuse the Heat fans who left game 6. Much, much more easily.
And of course, as commenter tony harding pointed out in the comments to the last point, the cherry on top is how many Heat "fans" tried to get back into the building after they found out the game wasn't actually over. We don't know if any Bruins fans tried that during the Leafs game, because there weren't as many cameras around since it was only the first round of the playoffs, but I'd be surprised if the scene was anything like the one that developed in Miami during game 6.
3) Your attempt to turn whether Miami is actually a superficial place into an argument is so ridiculous that I'm not going to entertain it. But I will entertain you on the debate as to whether Miami generally has good sports fans or not. You seem to think you've made a great point by noting Miami's attendance and local TV ratings are great during the LeBron era. (You cite LeBron era TV ratings, but none from any other point in time; if you know of a place to get them, I'd love to see them, but for now that doesn't establish jack fucking shit, as I will discuss below.) You also say things like
If current Heat TV ratings were bad, then that'd be taken evidence that Miami has no real fans. But the ratings are good, so it "means" that those fans are bandwagon frontrunners. Either way, the fanbase can't win, off the court at least. Nobody will ever say, "Boy those fans are really supportive," even if that's the case.
2000-2001: 50 wins, first round playoff loss, 15th in attendance
2001-2002: 36 wins, missed playoffs, 19th in attendance
2002-2003: 25 wins, missed playoffs, 22nd in attendance
2003-2004: 42 wins, second round playoff loss, 24th in attendance
First of all, winning 50 games and finishing 15th in attendance is kind of crappy. But the more important data point here is the 2003-2004 season. The two year playoff drought that preceded it was only the second in franchise history. Now, that'll hurt attendance. But 2003-2004 was Dwyane Wade's rookie year, and a 42 win playoff season. And attendance decreased relative to the previous season? That's the sign of a fanbase that doesn't give a shit. In contrast, the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Raptors also had exciting rookies trying to lead them back to relevance that year. The Nuggets went from 25th in attendance in 2002-2003 to 12th in 2003-2004. The Cavaliers went from 29th to 9th. The Raptors went from 10th to 8th. You have any wiseass explanations for that? Were James, Anthony and Bosh just that much more exciting than Wade? Maybe LeBron was, but those other two?
The Cavs and Raptors didn't even make the playoffs like the Heat and Nuggets did that year. Why were the other three teams all in the top 12 in attendance, including two non-playoff teams, but the Heat were in 24th? Could it be that Miami fans are a bunch of stupid fucking frontrunners who have a one season lag time between the team getting good and them deciding to pay attention to it? Sure, the fact that the Heat surged to 4th in attendance in 2004-2005 kind of supports that idea, as does the next thing I'm about to talk about, but you're the snarky genius here. I'm sure you have some kind of explanation.
Since Wade joined the team, the only time they've missed the playoffs was in 2007-2008, when they won just 15 games and somehow managed to find significant minutes for Chris Quinn and Earl Barron. Let's look at that season and the two that bracketed it.
2006-2007: 44 wins, first round playoff loss, 4th in attendance
2007-2008: 15 wins, worst season in franchise history, 8th in attendance
2008-2009: 43 wins, first round playoff loss, 15th in attendance
And here we see the same effect we saw above. The team has a bad year, attendance goes down. That happens. But the following year, the team is good again and... attendance declines again. Hmmm. How about some more parallel comparisons, like I gave above? Here's a list of all of the "missed playoff sandwiches" (playoff year, non-playoff year, playoff year) that have happened in the NBA going back to 2001, with the team, years in question, and the attendance rankings in those three years.
Bulls, 2007-2008-2009, 1st, 2nd, 2nd
Jazz, 2010-2011-2011, 6th, 7th, 6th
Lakers, 2004-2005-2006, 7th, 7th, 7th
Suns (double decker sandwich, on/off/on/off/on), 2001-2002-2003-2004-2005, 9th, 17th, 16th, 17th, 10th
Rockets, 2005-2006-2007, 23rd, 28th, 21st
76ers, 2009-2010-2011, 23rd, 26th, 25th
Hornets, 2009-2010-2011, 19th, 23rd, 26th
Suns, 2008-2009-2010, 13th, 14th, 16th.
So let me parse that for you. Eight instances (really nine if you count the 2001-2005 Suns twice). In six (or seven) the team's attendance rebounded when the team's performance did. In the two where attendance failed to rebound during the second playoff year, the dropoff was not as precipitous as the 2009 Heat's was. I'm not trying to write a thesis here so I won't take much time to explore all the ins and outs and possible reasons for these trends. I will just theorize that bandwagon frontrunner fans (like those in Miami) take longer to warm up to the idea that the hometown team is good, because they don't actually give a shit about the team and only hear they're doing well when "buzz" has been building around town for some time. Heat fans in 2002-2003: "They suck." In 2003-2004: "I hear they drafted some guy but I remember them sucking last year, I'm not going." In 2004-2005: "Wait they made the playoffs last year? OMG D WADE IS THE BEST I LOVE THIS TEAM!!!!!" Fans that aren't shithead frontrunner bandwagoners tend to follow their teams closely, and either will not be deterred from going to games even if there's a lean year, or if they are deterred, will return quickly once the team is good again. I think this is the Occam's Razor explanation, although if you have a better one, I'd love to hear it.
Hey, maybe Miami fans support their other teams more fervently! The Marlins won a World Series in 2003. Let's take a look at how their numbers have stacked up since then.
2003: 91 wins, 28th in attendance
2004: 83 wins, 26th in attendance
2005: 83 wins, 28th in attendance
2006: 78 wins, 30th in attendance
2007: 71 wins, 30th in attendance
2008: 84 wins, 30th in attendance
2009: 87 wins, 29th in attendance
2010: 80 wins, 28th in attendance
2011: 72 wins, 28th in attendance
2012 (new stadium!): 69 wins, 18th in attendance
2013: currently 30th in wins, 30th in attendance
I'll do the math for you: during the nine seasons from 2003-2011, they were exactly a .500 team. They never finished out of the bottom five in attendance. Sure, bad ballpark, hot summer weather, much of the 2003 title team was dismantled and shipped away before the 2004 season even started. None of those things are anywhere close to being good enough to explain those attendance numbers. The 18th place finish in attendance in 2012 is the worst for any team in a brand new stadium since 2001, by the way. No other team since then finished below 13th (Cincinnati in 2003, Milwaukee in 2001). You know what I said about Heat fans being bandwagoners? It appears there are no Marlins fans at all. And a town that doesn't support one team at all is probably the kind of town that will have bandwagon fans for other teams.
I won't bother to post the Panthers' attendance numbers, they're too depressing. And NFL attendance is meaningless. In conclusion, feel free to continue commenting on this matter, but unless you want to address what I just presented or otherwise show that Heat fans have always supported the team and are definitely not frontrunners, maybe just keep your mouth shut.
Bonus! You complained that Deadspin was going out of its way to show the bad side of Heat fans. While I agree that Deadspin wants (and gets) clicks by putting up posts about true and hilarious things, like the fact that many Miami fans are frontrunners, they also posted a counterpoint piece over the weekend. It's got some real gems of non-insight and unintentional comedy.
Miami Heat Nation Encompasses More Than Brats, Ghouls, And Idiots
When the Miami Heat won its only LeBronless title, in 2006, I was living outside Fort Lauderdale. My building fees included basic cable, which was enough to get just about every Heat game and virtually nothing else worth watching. My girlfriend at the time could tolerate basketball well enough — better, in fact, than we could generally tolerate one another. So there were abundant Heat games on at my place.
It helped, too, that they were a great bunch to adopt. Practically everyone seemed to be getting the most out of his talent, which is all it really takes to make a city proud.
The night they won the title my girlfriend insisted we go to the beach instead of watching the game, so I set the VCR (seriously) to record Game 6.
Dammit, I thought. They won it.
I should've known better than to think I could block out an NBA title in South Florida, and looking back, that's why I get my hackles up any time someone shits on All Miami Fans.
How fucking great is that? Let's summarize: "I was kind of a Heat fan, but not enough of one to pass up a trip to the beach (which is open and beautiful 365 days a year) to watch their title clinching game. And then, would you believe it, PEOPLE WERE BEEPING THEIR CAR HORNS WHEN THE HEAT WON IT ALL. WHAT A BUNCH OF CAPITAL T TRUE CAPITAL F FANS. To this day I get annoyed that people call them frontrunners, because they know exactly how to beep their horn when their team wins a championship." Get the fuck out of here.
The city may be an open sewer of humanity, all drug-money mansions and teen-aged plastic surgery and narcissism as a dogma, and it may include this shameless harpy, and this slappable douche nozzle, and these window-fogging twits, and after the Heat won this year a club owner comped them the one hundred thousand American dollars the team rang up for 103 bottles of Champagne, which, hospitality aside, is a moral abomination in a city that for all its overcompensating opulence routinely ranks among the nation's poorest.