Last weekend, the trailer for the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy was released. LeBron James stars in the sequel to the original Space Jam from 1995.
While most were occupied with previewing the long-awaited movie itself, Miami Heat fans quickly became fixated on one particular scene in the trailer that caught their eye: an obvious homage to the iconic image of Dwyane Wade celebrating with his arms outstretched as LeBron James soared through the air to dunk an alley-oop pass behind him.
Most Heat fans took the inclusion of the iconic "Big Three" moment in the film as a compliment. Others? Not so much. They found it hypocritical that a team that was so widely hated by everyone outside Miami during its reign as the best team in the NBA is now being portrayed in such glowing fashion.
I hate when this dunk is appropriated. When it happened everyone HATED that Heat team and shat on them every chance.— Kyle Lowry Lifer (@gnavas103) April 3, 2021
This cant now be public domain that everyone loves. Its so incredibly annoying https://t.co/t63YX6A4u1
Many Heat fans see the recent narrative change as revisionist history, and they're not all about it. If you hated us then, don't come around loving us now.
So why has the narrative around those 2010-to-2014 "Big Three" Heat teams changed in recent years? We have some guesses.
"Superteams" have been normalized. Before LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh shocked the world by teaming up on the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010, a player-made superteam wasn't really a thing. If a team was full of stars, it was usually via great drafts or trades. Now, it's the norm. Literally, it's the only way. Good luck not following the Heat's 2010-2014 model of getting players to team up for a ring.
From Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors teams to Kevin Durant and the current Brooklyn Nets squad, it's no longer frowned upon to see players decide their own fate.
Public opinion of LeBron James has improved since he left Miami. When LeBron joined the Miami Heat, he was bashed for running away from his hometown team in the name of ring-chasing. After winning two titles in Miami, he went back to Cleveland, won the Cavs a title, and has since done the same in Los Angeles. He's basically a food truck, dishing out titles to whatever city he decides to stop in.
LeBron went home and did well by Cleveland, which got a lot of haters off his back. Then he won a title for the Lakers after Kobe Bryant's death. It's easy to like him now. Times have changed since he was hated for joining the Heat.
Dwyane Wade is no longer a threat. Many players become more beloved once they retire. It's easy to hate a person you don't know when they're continually standing in the way of your favorite basketball team's success.
Dwyane Wade is no longer serving buckets to other teams all season, nor is he recruiting away stars from their current teams. He's just a lovable guy who pops up on television sometimes, drinks a lot of wine on Instagram, and is, seemingly, the best dad ever. Continuing to hate him in 2021 doesn't make any sense.
He's the best. Even New York Knicks fans can appreciate that now that he's done punishing their team.
Chris Bosh medically retired. Like Wade, Chris Bosh is no longer a pain in the opponent's asses, so their fans can appreciate just how awesome he is off the court. Bosh was forced to retire from the NBA in 2019 because of blood clots that would jeopardize his life on the court. The retirement was abrupt and made national news.
Bosh is no longer a punching bag for online trolls but a thoughtful analyst/renaissance man any sane person can appreciate. Now, everyone sees why Heat fans refer to him as "Boshy Bear." You couldn't hate this man even if you tried.
Miami did it the right way. Back when Miami formed the "Big Three," people got big mad. They didn't think it was right that players could use a free-agency period in a way others had never used it before. Fans were so used to teams landing one big free agent that it seemed unfair and against the rules when Miami got three at once.
Now, by comparison, what the Heat did seems like the "right way" to form a team. Players are forcing their way to teams they want to play for, right after they signed record-breaking deals. They're holding their teams hostage and forcing them to get pennies on the dollar in a trade because everyone knows they want to play for one specific team.
The Heat was mocked as being "bought," not "built," in 2010. How's that look now? Not so bad anymore.
Miami wished LeBron James well when he left, unlike Cleveland. Was Miami Heat president Pat Riley pissed off when LeBron left Miami for Cleveland in 2014? Yup. Did he let it be known that he was angry? Almost right away. Did he write a crazy-ass letter in Comic Sans that felt extremely racist-y, like Cavs owner Dan Gilbert did when LeBron left Cleveland in 2010? Not even close.
Miami showed class when LeBron left and wished him well. People took notice. Cleveland, as a sports city, will forever be tarnished by the way it acted about the departure and return of LeBron.
Erik Spoelstra has since earned a lot of respect. Back in 2010, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was thought of as a child being handed the keys to a Ferrari. Many thought Pat Riley should step back down from his role as president and coach the team that, at the time, was expected to be one of the greatest in NBA history.
Since then, we've all learned a lot about who Spoelstra is. As it turns out, he was good enough to coach those teams, and any other team in NBA history. He's a Hall of Fame coach the day he becomes eligible.
Respect has a way of squashing hate. Spo now has incredible respect all around the league.
The "Big Three" ended on a losing note. Everyone outside Miami wanted the Heat to lose every time it stepped on the court. More times than not, people were disappointed. The Heat won a lot from 2010 to 2014. But the ride ended in the 2014 NBA Finals with a complete ass-kicking at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.
People got their fix. They saw the Heat lose. They saw the team break up afterward. There was nothing left to hate after that, and the haters left satisfied.
Toronto and Cleveland have since won titles. Chris Bosh left Toronto and LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010. At the time, both cities were ringless wonders with a history of losing. Since 2014, the Raptors and Cavaliers have each won a title. The salt has been washed from the wounds, and all has been made well.
If Toronto and Cleveland had been perennial losers since the Heat stole their stars, people might feel differently. But they've both turned out fine since 2010.
Miami has since played the role of the underdog. NBA fans possess the memory of goldfish. Whatever happened today is the best thing ever to happen, and whatever happened ten years ago is old news. Being that the "Big Three" formed more than ten years ago, the Heat is now more remembered for being the underdog of the 2020 NBA Finals against LeBron than as the franchise that dominated the NBA with LeBron.
Everyone loves the underdog, and Miami has been just that since LeBron left. It's easy to forget the Heat was once the hated favorite.
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