"I love the Heat."
These were the words that caught my buddy Jesse off guard as the two of us sat at Pequod's Pizza a week ago and watched the Blackhawks and Bulls battle Colorado and San Antonio, respectively. The Hawks squeaked out their game (the last of The Streak) while the Bulls lost in a beatdown in San Antonio.
It was during that beatdown that we saw a highlight from the earlier Heat game that nearly made me spit Pequod's all over the table. LeBron James was leading a 3-on-1 break, with his pal Dwyane Wade behind him and Orlando's Aaron Afflalo spinning sideways a step ahead of them, trying to shimmy into defensive position. As James passed midcourt, he flipped a pass behind his back to Wade.
Wade took one dribble, and Afflalo, still all alone, rotated to his right to step forward and stop the ball. And boom! The helpless defender continued his spin, watching the flight of Wade's pass as it soared near the backboard, and Afflalo has this great moment where he sees James about to slam down this oop and seems to be thinking, "Oh that's right, THAT's what I was worried about on the other side of the court."
I explained all this to Jesse.
"Yeah, but take it easy there. You love the Heat?" he asked incredulously.
"OK fine, I don't love the Heat," I said. "But I definitely dig them. No one else can do what they do. What's wrong with loving that?"
The word slipped out of my mouth again, but I couldn't help it: I love basketball, and I love watching Miami run. Like a straight man admitting another man is attractive, why can't we Bulls fans at least say we like the Heat?
This doesn't mean rooting for them, mind you. I certainly don't. That's an action, and the Dude does not abide.
But this is about a sports fan's viewing experience, and just as the #streaking Blackhawks showed us, when team sports are cooking, don't nitpick the jersey. Just sit the heck down and enjoy yourself.
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @ReadJack
Here are James and Wade doing their thing. Pick it up around the 30-second mark:
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