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And here come the haters...

by Nick Vitrano

The beauty of a championship game 7 is the buildup - the proximity to history...the oh-so-close to immortality that is equally extended both parties.  No matter the outcome, each side knows it didn’t have to come to this.  Each side laments opportunities lost.  Each side understands that there can only be one.  And each must find a way to quiet the demons and summon a motivation to rise up in the moment of no tomorrow.  It is competition at its most heightened state.

One is forever stamped – one relegated to the scrap heap of what could have been.

I’m not speaking of merely the athletes and the organizations, but also the fans. 

Few of us know the vitriolic response that is losing a title bout.  The overwhelming majority of us never make it that far.  But to emerge on the wrong end of a winner-take-all battle churns up previously unthinkable venom.  Therein lies my greatest delight in the outcome of this season’s NBA campaign.

I had no vested interest in the finals – didn’t care who won – just enjoyed the hoops, but I leaned Heat in this one simply because I knew a Miami title would bring out the haters in frightening numbers.

From the “bought championship” to the “LeBron isn’t anywhere close to M.J.” to the full-on conspiracy theory, the anti-Heaters are goin’ nuts this morning…and it’s fantastic.  The theater of hate is some of the finest reality programming that exists.

We may not all know this degree of contempt, but we all know hate.  Sports is equal parts love and hate, and I may be giving too much credit to the former.

Hate is a form of sports self preservation.  Your team can’t always win, won’t always win.  In order to quench the thirst for victory, we take delight in the defeat of our foes…at anyone’s hands.  Sure winning tastes sweet, but there’s a little extra sugar when the team you spank is your rival.  Sure losing is brutal, but there’s a little salve in watching your adversary suffer a similar fate.  How many times have we said to ourselves – “…at least ’fill in the blank’ didn’t win?” 

The theater of hate is some of the finest reality programming that exists.