5 Teams That Were More Hated Than the Miami Heat
To say we saw a backlash against the Miami Heat this year would be an understatement. Sentiment went from “excited” during the summer as they assembled the most daunting team in the league to “apathy,” to “hate.” People liked the Miami juggernaut, but mostly so they had a clear enemy to root against with LeBron’s decision, Wade’s propensity for dives, and Bosh’s…I dunno…neck?
But by my count, the Heat don’t crack the top five most hated teams of the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong. They’re probably number six, but we have seen more backlash against other teams than the Heat received this year. Let’s take a look and see why.
5. New York Yankees – Any Year
Let’s get this one out of the way. It’s not a very inspired entry, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Sure, this doesn’t require a terrible amount of research, but there are a few things we know to be true: Christian Slater will never find a suitable TV vehicle; 30% of Ikea furniture will break during assembly, while the other 70% will break during your next move; and the New York Yankees will always be more hated than any other team in sports.
Sarah Palin and Al Franken could buy the Green Bay Packers and move them to Orlando, and that team would not be as hated as the Yankees are at this moment. If it’s not A-Rod, it’s their new stadium. If it’s not that, it was Steinbrenner’s reign of tyranny.
Never mind that the fans are beyond insufferable. There are perhaps other teams with equally obnoxious fan bases, but none are as vocal as the Yanks’.
A Bill Simmons reader perhaps put it best: “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in blackjack.”
4. USC Trojans – 2005
(Full disclosure: I’m a die-hard USC fan. I don’t think it impacts my judgment or objectivity here, but what the hell do I know?)
It’s hard to pinpoint a singular year that saw the Trojans reach the nadir of their popularity, but 2005 seems to be a more likely year than any other. They had just dismantled Oklahoma for the BCS title the year before, after having weaseled their way into winning their share of the national title by scoring the AP vote, while LSU won the BCS game to score their share in 2003. (Eff the BCS. That is all.)
Aside from their success, it wasn’t known at the time that USC was breaking the rules, and even if it had been, there exist so many fans that are living in glass houses when it comes to corrupt programs that it’s hard to take these criticisms too seriously.
On the heels of Leinart’s Heisman, Bush scored his in a heated and contested race between him and Texas QB Vince Young, who ultimately got the last laugh when the Horns took down USC in one of the more compelling BCS contests in the history of the godforsaken system.
I realize it looks kind of shady that the USC fans can’t find a palpable reason for the hatred of the Trojans during this time, but it was there. Sure, Leinart, and later Sanchez were pretty boys that were construed as too Hollywood for their own good (Leinart certainly), but Carroll was a pretty likeable guy.
So what was it?
3. Florida Gators – 2009
Tebow. That’s pretty much it. Well, Urban Meyer too, but let’s start with Tebow. His squeaky clean churchgoing image, coupled with the fact that his pro prospects weren’t too bright made his “Spirit Award” schtick pretty tired pretty quickly. He also had a really hot girlfriend that he probably wasn’t having sex with, which seems not only arrogant, but something of a waste.
“She’s not gonna have that body in five years, Tim!”
He was the face of a team that has no shortage of enemies in the SEC; considering these guys were the frontrunner for the national championship all season, the hate had now spread throughout the nation. The year before, the Gators took down Oklahoma for the #1 spot, so disdain for this squad and its fearless, corn-fed leader had two years to grow. When they lost to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship game, their status returned simply to “hated,” a step down from “most hated.”
2. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2001
Whereas most hockey teams are hated and feared for being physical, like Philly’s Broad Street Bullies, the Leafs were just a little too whine-y for the rough and tumble NHL. Coach Pat Quinn would bitch incessantly about the refereeing both during and after games, Tie Domi was antagonizing every player within reach, and Darcy Tucker was diving like an Italian soccer player.
Then there’s the fact that Toronto has long been considered ground zero for hockey, so fans from other teams had always been a little miffed at the coverage and favoritism demonstrated towards the city and the team. Fortunately for the team’s detractors, the Leafs didn’t raise the cup that year, taking out the Islanders and Senators before falling to the Cinderella-story Hurricanes.
1. New England Patriots – 2007
These guys pretty much hit the jackpot when it came to “hatability.” The season served as the culmination of anti-Boston sentiment. A city that, in sporting terms, always existed in the shadow of NYC, had finally gotten its due in baseball and football, and the Celts had just assembled a crack squad that was in the process of grabbing the title later that year.
So when news broke that the wildly unlikeable Bill Belichick was found to be illegally taping the Jets’ defensive signals in a September game, it offered somehow more incentive to deride the Pats, their success, and Tom Brady, who right around that time was probably making the difficult if he wanted to keep banging out Bridget Moynahan or if he wanted to mix it up with Gisele. Yeah, he wasn’t getting a lot of sympathy from casual fans.
Of course, they went on their 16-0 tear putting an even bigger target on their foreheads about halfway through the regular season. When they found their way to the Super Bowl, they put most NFL fans in the difficult position of rooting against the Pats or the insufferably petty jackasses of the undefeated ’72 Dolphins team who kept plying the media with reasons why they were better than everything that existed in 2007.
David Tyree proved to be the salvation of the Pats haters with his helmet catch in the Super Bowl, but he has recently churned out via Twitter some pretty homophobic notions, so in hindsight, 2007 was just filled with some pretty crappy principals.