(The idea that KD is good and LeBron is bad was discussed a few weeks ago, but just on the surface. What about their teams? Is this truly a good versus evil type of dynamic in the NBA this year? JG takes a closer look.)
Far too often in sports, professional athletes and teams are given exaggerated names or labeled with one of a million cliched analogies that they just don’t deserve. Hyperbole runs rampant in the information age and so many, many a fan rolls their eyes when they hear words like “the game of the decade” or “the best _______ I’ve ever seen” so much so that a doubting reluctance to pay attention to any demonstrative title or name becomes almost second nature.
The reason I say this is to try and illustrate how much disdain I personally feel when a team or athlete is hyped to an unbelievable degree or labeled as something so outlandish and absurd that all you can really do is laugh about the strained connection some writer or media member tried to make between a true icon of the sports world or a timeless character from books, movies, history, etc and some modern day athlete playing a game for a living.
Why? Well, because I’m about to do just that.
You see, I’ve been diving into the defining traits of the all-time great modern villains in literature and film, or as I like to call them, the Degrees of Diabolicalness, for my book’s website and I couldn’t help but notice the striking parallels between legendary, epic villains and—the Miami Heat.
Now while that might not be all that surprising, the realization that the Miami Heat would be the NBA’s version of the Empire led me to an almost inevitable inquiry: If the Miami Heat are the Empire, does that make the Thunder the Rebellion?
Certainly you don’t have to look very hard at the Degrees of Diabolicalness to understand how the Miami Heat meet all the criteria of the legendary villains:
1. They delight in their superiority, flaunting their power in the face of all who would challenge them.
Uh, mega huge bolded check. From The LeBacle to the rising up from the stage to God only knows what’s going to happen during their pregame warmup stuff, I’ll just say the Heat had this one done before they even signed their contracts (which, by the way, also added to this ginormous check).
2. You understand a little too well what fatal flaw led them down the dark path and why they do what they do.
Oh yeah. Anyone who doesn’t understand wanting to be on an amazing team after languishing on the Raptors (hello, lottery!) and Cavs (hello, doing it all myself and questionable front office maneuvers) for six years, playing with your buddies, living and spending time in South Beach and just flat out CRUSHING almost every NBA team in the league in your path…might not be human. Or, at the very least, a male with a normal sized ego and narcissistic (do you look at your reflection when you walk past the mirror?) drive.
3. They surpass being a bad guy and become the very embodiment of evil.
Do I even need to write anything here?
What team are you going to root against no matter who they play (even if they play the Lakers, people! That alone should be proof enough)? Who do you want to fail so badly that you honestly fear for what the future of the NBA landscape could look like if they don’t? Lastly, who’s epic collapse or shocking choke job in the playoffs would you relish and savor like a sweet, succulent lobster just swimming in warm butter sauce?
I think the facts speak for themselves. The Heat are the Evil Empire in the NBA next year, and, to be honest, I absolutely love it. Every great story, every great hero needs a tremendous villain.
But that brings us to our initial question. Does that mean the Thunder are the Rebel Forces to the Heat’s Empire.
Honestly? I think it does.
Now it’s definitely going to be unfair to KD to make him out to be the anti-Lebron (even though the timing of KD signing his contract almost begged people to make that distinction through no fault of Durant though) just as much as it will be to say that the Thunder are the anti-Heat.
But they kind of are. The Thunder slowly built their team through the draft and small maneuvers, snatching up undervalued role players for market savvy contracts and then letting everything grow and develop at its own pace.
The Heat did the exact opposite, gutting there entire roster save for Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony’s rights in an unprecedented effort to lure three of the top four PER players in the NBA to the same team, confident that other veterans would still want to come play with them despite taking less money (a brilliantly fiendish move).
The Thunder’s fan base is famously loyal, maintaining impressive attendance numbers despite one of the worst starts in NBA history and even improving upon that support when things started turning around.
Um, Miami doesn’t really have fans as much as they have event attendees. But make no mistake, the Heat will be THE event for the next five years, at least. But if they stumble out of the blocks or bow out early in the playoffs, the Heat will quickly find that the one thing Miami doesn’t settle for is a championship caliber team playing sub-par ball.
The Thunder is the young and plucky team who is more a collection of misfits that are greater than the sum of their parts, a team first, no nonsense or spotlight hogging band of brothers that always give every last ounce of effort on the floor.
Um, no comment. I think I’ve already said enough about the Heat to provoke Pat Riley to Force Lightning me.
I could go on and on at the differences, but instead of doing that I thought it would be fun to try and find out who is whom?
Obviously KD is Luke Skywalker, to which I would then say that Westbrook is definitely more Han Solo than anyone else on the team. Now Jeff Green, as usual, is a source of much debate because he could be Obi-Won (the player who must ultimately depart for the team to truly take that next step; all the Green haters rejoice) but honestly, I think he’s much more the under-appreciated yet absolutely essential Princess Leia. And no, this is not an invitation for any gold bikini jokes.
I’ll let you guys take the rest, on both the Heat and the Thunder, but I must end with this last statement.
We all know who Serge is. And Heat players should do well to remember one, very important thing.
It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.