Quick, name a great movie that doesn’t have a villain.
If you answered any Woody Allen or Wes Anderson movie, you would be correct, but I doubt many of you did.
A vast amount of movies and stories need someone to root against to propel the main character or hero into a much more favorable light. It’s a basic plot device that makes rooting for one side easier.
Over the past ten years, the NBA has been lacking such an idea.
Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson may have gotten close to the dark side as they torched every team in the league, but I haven’t met many true NBA fans who don’t respect what they have done. In fact, no individual player has been thoroughly hated in my lifetime.
Before this season started, there hadn’t been a truly villainous team in the league since the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s.
But thankfully, the search for an NBA villain has ended, and it ended that fateful day when LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach.
The way LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces was such an utterly pure capitalistic exercise that it would have brought Karl Marx to tears if he were still alive and kicking.
Since that day, the Miami Heat has been reviled by every fan outside of South Florida to a degree that the Heat’s black jerseys seem just as fitting as Darth Vader’s black attire.
Kobe and Iverson had respect, this team has none.
Many of my friends are Chicago Bulls fans and many of them have already stated that if the Bulls lost to the Heat, it was because the referees hated the Bulls. Already, two playoff series before that matchup could happen, the hate and the ridicule is palpable.
Trying to say the Heat has two of the top five players in the NBA does nothing for them, they couldn’t care less. They hate the Heat.
Hate can be as strong as love, and the ratings of this season’s NBA games reflect it. Eight of the 20 most-viewed NBA games broadcasted on ESPN featured the Heat team. That’s no small feat.
It’s no accident this year’s Heat appear on that list more then any other team. It’s because they are so villainous, and people want to see the Heat extinguished. People want to watch the Heat lose so badly that, according to a new article in Forbes, the NBA’s new television contract will cost networks 30 percent more than their current contract.
Check on TNT’s NBA coverage and you’ll see its viewership has gone up 43 percent from last year, with five games featuring the Heat being viewed by more people than last year’s most watched game.
Quick, do you really think all of this would be happening if LeBron had stayed in Cleveland? If Bosh had signed with the Bulls? If Wade had team up with Carlos Boozer in Miami?
That’s like asking if Star Wars would have been big without Darth Vader.
Zach Berg is a junior political science and English major from Morton. He is the Scout sports reporter.
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