Determining the NBA’s Most Hated Team

After seeing the terrific response to the Determining the NHL’s Most Hated Team article written by Ben Kerr, one of the our hockey experts here at Last Word on Sports, and our NFL version written by Rick Wiseman, and the baseball version from Larry Scotti, there needed to be a similar article done about the National Basketball Association. Being somewhat of a basketball historian, I was given the task of this article. So let’s get to it.

Like NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, David Stern is not very well liked, which might be putting it lightly. If you have ever watched an NBA draft, he is booed mercifully throughout. Though this is very unsurprising; if you look at the other major professional leagues in North America this holds true across the board. Unlike its commissioner, the NBA is at it’s peek in terms of popularity. Many people feel that the NBA is now the second most popular sport in the US behind the NFL, having surpassed baseball over the last 10 years. The NBA has out-drawn the Major League Baseball’s World Series five out of the last six years and the last four in a row in terms of TV ratings, which supports this claim.

So with all the positive publicity the NBA has seen in the last five years, the question is who is the NBA’s most hated team?

Similar to the NHL article, I have come up with a list of teams I feel are frontrunners for the title: Los Angles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks. These four teams are hated for a variety of reasons. I will lay out why each has invoked these negative feelings over the years.

At the conclusion you will find the poll asking you to determine who you believe is the most hated. I encourage you to add your own comments below, and I will include some of them in our follow-up article revealing the “winner”.

 

Los Angles Lakers – You love a perpetual winner when they are your favorite team, but hate them when they are not. They can also get your favorite team’s best player in a purple and gold uniform.

Why are they so hated?

The Lakers are in the love-hate zone. By that I mean that they are loved passionately by their own fan base. This fan base is large as shown by Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard being the 3rd and 6th best selling NBA jerseys for the 2012-13 season. On the other hand, they are despised by almost all other NBA fans. There are two main reasons why they are so hated. First would be that they are a team that holds 16 Larry O’Brien trophies (NBA championship trophy). There is nothing worse than a team that seems to win a title for every time your favorite team seems to makes the playoffs. Second, even worse than a team that wins all the time, is one that wins all the time and can poach your team’s best player. The Lakers have a major history showing this. A few examples of this are Wilt Chamberlian, Kareem Abdual-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal, all wooed by the Lakers. Between them, they own 11 MVP awards and won nine NBA titles with the Lakers. It’s one thing to draft well and build a team from inside the organization, but it’s completely different to win over half your titles with your best player coming from another team. Case closed.

 

Boston Celtics – A history of long term success which includes winning one quarter of the NBA championships ever awarded.

Why are they so hated?

The Celtics are a lot like the Lakers in that they are perpetual winners, though at a slightly higher rate. They own a little more than one quarter of the NBA titles awarded to this point in league history – 17. Just to give people some perspective on that number, there are 15 NBA teams that have never won a NBA title and 7 that don’t even have an appearance in the finals. This means that half the league is title-less to this point in history. So, if you are a fan of those 15 teams when you watch a Celtics game, the amount of banners in their rafters could make you sick. On top of that, the Celtics are a team that never seems to stay down long. Breaks just seem to fall their way allowing them to rebuild quickly. They have more titles won than seasons out of the playoffs. Even now when they were suppose to be tanking they are leading the Atlantic division. The other issue with the Celtics winning is that they did it without any pizzazz or flash. These things can bring in new fans. Boston always had a grinders mentality starting with Bill Russell. No one created controversy or bulletin board material for the media to give to the fans. Just get the job done; which they did a lot.

 

Miami Heat – Winning titles by teaming up. Many say this was a questionable thing for all-time great to do.

Why are they so hated?

It only took one statement to make the Miami Heat a villain. That statement also pushed the NBA into the conscience of most Americans and drove the NBA to heights it never thought possible: “This fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” His talents were not the only thing Lebron brought to South Beach that day. At that Boys and Girls Club in Connecticut, Lebron started a chain of events that would push the Heat from a relatively low-key NBA team into a hated team faster then anything we have ever seen in sport history. In that second he had all of Ohio turn on him, and in quick order, with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade and the signing of Chris Bosh, he had all of Canada right in-line with those from Ohio. Many people beyond these fans, thought that these three all-stars teaming up to try and win was taking the easy way out. This resulted in many casual Lebron, Wade and Bosh fans turning on them. Among those disappointed in these trio taking the easy way out was the very out spoken Charles Barkley. If you were not a Heat fan the reality was that when your team got eliminated from the playoffs you were now cheering for the Heat to lose. Many fans of Lebron wanted him to stay in Cleveland and win there. Now on top of this, the Heat are now turning into constant winners having been to three straight finals and winning two championships in a row. They are looking a lot like the Lakers of the 21st century.

 

New York Knicks – Big markets are great for making money and great for making even more enemies.

Why are they so hated?

The Knicks are a team that have not done anything on their own accord to be on this list. The issue with them is the same issue that plagues the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL – their market size. New York is the largest market in the US, and has ultimately entitled their fans to assume that they are the center of the NBA universe. The reality is that they’ve only won 2 NBA titles and they were in 1970 and 1973 – over 40 years ago. I guess I should mention that they have lost the six other times that they reached the finals – I certainly don’t want to misrepresent their accomplishments. They have not sniffed the finals in the last 15 years. One would think that with the amount the Knicks are in the media they would be in the Celtic and Lakers class when it comes to winning titles. Not even close. One thing that turns fans off a certain team is over-saturation, and the Knicks are the best example of this in the NBA.

Vote.  Tell us who you hate, and feel free to leave a comment as to why.  We’ll feature the best when we name the winner.  Is your hated team one of the other 26?  Write them in the Comments.

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References:

http://www.awfulannouncing.com/2013/november/nba-finals-vs-world-series-ratings-since-1984.html