It’s the definition of a soft opening. The Miami Heat is kicking off the NBA season tonight in Boston, versus the Celtics, instead of in “South Beach”, where the franchise’s love of towering flames would have made for great TV, and where three of the NBA’s ten best players could bask in the certain love of the home crowd.
But NBA schedule makers aren’t clueless. Having media outlets ripping a tasteless pyrotechnic display in a relatively tasteless city would start the Heat off on the wrong foot, and not be at all helpful in rebranding the team as less of a prefab Eastern Conference power and more of a Stand by Me minus the dead body.
I just can’t see it. People don't hate the Yankees because of who they are, but because of what they represent: gluttony and greed. The same brush bastes the Heat. Individually, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are likable enough, with talent to spare, but collectively, they’re a bully, at a time where we've finally all decided that bullies are the greatest menace facing this country.
The “David vs. Goliath” paradigm resonates because, unless someone is personally invested, he or she is predisposed to root for the underdog. The next time this Heat team will be considered an underdog is two days after never, no matter how confused and apologetic some of its players try to seem.
Regardless, the travelling circus begins tonight and, appropriately enough, it is already on the road. Reporters will hang on every word, scrutinize every missed shot, and attempt to identify broader themes in their columns while making regrettable snap judgments with their tweets. Gossip bloggers in each city will lurk outside of PF Chang’s hoping to get a glimpse of the players and their entourages. Bottle servers at clubs will be keeping an eye and ear out for evidence that young rich men are behaving like young rich men. And if a Kardashian is within 100 miles, there will be linkage.
The players had to know that it wasn’t going to be easy, upsetting the natural order of the league. Still, no one could’ve expected the critics to bang the drum so loudly as to drown out the cheers for what will be some really entertaining basketball. It remains to be seen if the level of vitriol and scrutiny can be maintained throughout the long season.
Either way, the tip-off’s at 7:30. Not sure if you’d heard that.
Tony Gervino is a New York City-based editor and writer obsessed with honing his bio to make him sound quirky. He can also be found here.
Photo by Xynn Tii, from Flickr.