Humans crave understanding. We search for it with science and religion. We want explanations that soothe our curiosities, and give us the illusion of control.
But we are out of control right now when it comes to the Miami Heat. Totally. None of us has any earthly idea if the Miami is going to win the championship. Heat fans hope/believe/pray and swagger and talk trash with endless bravado and would commit felonies and risk prison time to make their hope/belief/prayer so but they don’t know. The extra-noisy-after-Heat-losses media that still engulfs this team with poorly-camouflaged hostility predicts and dissects using every math and bias available to man and does not know.
This creates a restlessness in both groups, fans seeing media bias in every crevice, the media finding loud Miami fans obnoxious, both sides unreasonably emotional —which is rarely the state where anyone finds proper perspective, never mind answers to the unknowable. This is not an environment where people learn; this is an environment where people fight.
And we’ve all been here for three bleeping years. It is exhausting and debilitating, impacting your sleep and small daily things like, um, YOUR HAPPINESS. Imagine what it is like for the players. You know, the gasping guys at the center of it all with their lungs burning for three bleeping years. It is a small miracle that they can shoot straight with their hands trembling and faces spasming. If we keep climbing in this atmosphere, as we surely will, there is going to have to be a timeout, and those ballboys are going to have to scamper onto the court to mop up the floor because the head of Chris Bosh has actually exploded.
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(His head has always appeared smaller than it should be proportionally, and it is definitely smaller than it was when he arrived here three years ago, the daily pressure on his temples eroding his skull by several inches, according to ESPN Stats And Information People I Just Invented. But, seriously, if you are looking for a reason amid your confusion and fear that the Heat don’t always play the way it did in Game 7 against the Pacers and Game 4 against the Spurs, maybe it is because playing that way is really, really hard. And the players have lived in this space for three draining years. And sometimes they also win by taking the easier route of jump shots and defense that is slightly less piranha. Because it is human nature for human beings to take the easier route on occasion if that route often gets the right result, too.)
(Be comforted that they can summon the piranha effort as often as they have. And be scared that the Spurs are good enough to shoot over it sometimes even when it is summoned, as Tony Parker did to LeBron James with one-tenth of a second of panic remaining in Game 1.)
The environment is so tense that fans muster something close to hatred for the personalities who talk about fun and games on television. Absorb that one for moment. That Entertainment Reporter questioned the Heat’s effort in the fun-and-games arena? I hate him! How dare he doubt my team (at a time that I, too, am doubting)?!?! Analyst X predicts the Spurs will win in 6 games — even though Analyst X, like all of us, doesn’t know anything — and Heat Fan X files this away for future hatred opportunities while asking neighbors and strangers what they think is going to happen in the next game, not in search of actual connecting with another human being but in search of an opinion that feels like soothing.
Isn’t it great?
What do you mean it is actually terrible?
What do you mean it is ruining your marriage and your sex life?
What do you mean you are less patient with the kids, worse at work and don’t recognize this urge to fight your television?
What do you mean you’ll let me know in a few games if what you are experiencing this very minute was great or terrible, and that I can go stick my bleep in my bleep for even asking such stupid bleeping questions?
The whole thing is a weird and wonderful blessing, so emotional that it almost can’t be rational, a huge success no matter what happens from here, even though no one wants to hear that today and the scoreboard has a way of separating winners and losers forever without absorbing the joy of the moment with appreciation. The past three years — all those results, all that bliss, all that pain, all that alleged proof — has somehow been reduced to three games again now. Miami is back in that place where the difference between crushing failure and echoing, historic, validating proof is but a few bounces. Christ Almighty, this is insane.
And the media makes it worse/better, spraying lighter fluid all over the place every time there is any tiny spark of what might feel like flammable doubt around the Heat. The coverage of this Heat team is hysterical. Hysterical, as in funny. And hysterical, as in hysteria, the mental disorder characterized by emotional outbursts. It changes from half to half, game to game, people paid for their perspective acting perspective-less. It is one thing for a fan to bench Chris Bosh after five missed shots; it is another thing entirely for the media to trade him after every single loss when we’ve been at this for three bleeping years already. It has even smeared the poor bystander Spurs, as they’ve gone from “experienced” to “old” from game to game in this series and TWICE already. This as Stephen A. Smith calls Thiago Splitter “absolutely pathetic” and “a waste of space” because all of us are totally unhinged. One does not say things like that unemotionally.
The media is supposed to aspire to objectivity, but we all have our biases, and the adults who work in sports started as face-painted children who were fans first. So there’s plenty of arrested development lingering in this fun-and-games playpen, and what you get after both Heat wins and losses is something closer to camouflaged tantrums than clear-eyed perspective. You’d think we would have reached an expiration date on the noisy hostility by now. It is unreasonable, unfair and really, really tremendous. San Antonio can lose more quietly, more reasonably, with less shame. But that’s because the Spurs are the frumpy, conservative woman who walks into the club in a jump suit while Miami is all cleavage and curves. You know which one is going to get the attention. San Antonio’s coach can yell at star Tim Duncan during Game 4 without it meaning anything. Let Miami’s coach do that during a loss to LeBron. The rules are different for Miami.
Isn’t it great?
What do you mean it is actually terrible?
What do you mean you are going to punch me in the bleeping esophagus until I have no bleeping breath left?
Why are you cursing around the kids and threatening me again?
For a month now, 11 consecutive games, Miami has won-lost-won-lost-won-lost-won-lost-won-lost-won, and this has made the coverage see-saw from one extreme to another with every result. Conclusions are drawn, and pronouncements are made. This game is for LeBron’s legacy. That game gets Chris Bosh traded. This one is for the blueprint. Both coaches careen from smart to dumb based on whatever the result. How in the name of all that is holy and sane are we still here, doing this prisoner-of-the-moment math that ignores the past three seasons of results together and obsesses over what happened a few minutes ago? Perspective is not supposed to reach back only as far as the very last thing you saw. Are we really at the point where everything about the last three years can swing either way based on one last shot in a Game 7?
Life can be strange, outside and inside of this arena. Strangers pass each other in the street without a glance, staring into their phones, or a couple is on a restaurant date, staring into their phones, and you realize we are somehow more connected than we have ever been and more disconnected. Because the majority is more likely to choose news outlets that reaffirm what they already believe instead of ones that challenge their beliefs, we have more access to televised information than ever before and feel less informed. We have collected data on this breathtaking Miami Heat experiment for three bleeping years and we head into the next three games feeling like we know as little about the result as we did when all of this started. It can be argued that you had more confidence the very first day you learned of this assembly of talent than you do even with the championship that has been birthed since.
It really is great.
No, it isn’t.
Yes, it is.
Get the hell away from me.
I want to hug you.
I want to fight you.
Dwyane is so great.
Dwyane is so terrible.
Face in hands.
In your face!
The Spurs are just a better team.
We will crush them!
Dwyane is hurt.
Dwyane is healthy.
I like how the Spurs coach is with the media.
I want to stab the Spurs coach with a screwdriver.
This needs to end.
I hope it never ends.
I want this feeling to go away right now.
I’m going to miss it so very much.