According to the fine folks at Gambling.com, the Miami Heat have the fourth-most annoying fanbase in the NBA. This, conversely, is proof that it’s good to be a Miami Heat fan.
Now, the findings (we use the word “findings” loosely) of this “study” (ditto) were not exactly peer reviewed: Gambling.com arrived at this ranking by using Linkfluence to calculate how many social media posts used the word “annoying” about every fanbase. That’s it. In descending order, the most annoying fanbases were: the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Miami Heat. All of this makes sense. But only one of these fanbases, and the team attached to it, is actually annoying.
The Lakers have won six championships since 2000. The Lakers have the most popular NBA player since Michael Jordan. The Lakers have an HBO series about their championship teams from the 1980s. The Lakers are the most successful franchise of the last 23 years. This “annoyance” is jealousy cloaked as annoyance. And maybe some inflated expectations.
A dissenting view: According to Megan Gailey, co-host of Megan Fun of Sports on ESPN, the Lakers are, indeed, the most annoying fanbase. “They’re delusional and so overly excited and I thought they treated Russell Westbrook very unfairly,” she says. Gailey may be right: The odds for this team are always high, and the Westbrook era didn’t go so well, but the team did advance to the Western Conference finals and were knocked out by the inevitable champions. So maybe the delusion was warranted?
Meanwhile, the Warriors have won four championships since 2015. The Warriors have the most popular NBA player since Lebron James. The Warriors have a superstar in Subway commercials, an HBO Max game show, an Apple+ documentary, a Golf Channel TV show and possibly a co-starring role in an NBC sitcom (yeah, this is the weirdest one: Steph Curry and Adam Pally in Mr. Throwback). This annoyance is, once again, basically jealousy and one star’s overexposure. And maybe some of their fans.
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C.J. Toledano, head of Follow Through and host of the NBA podcast Casuals, will, however, make the case for the Warriors’ annoying fans. “Warrior fans are annoying because they only became diehard fans when they started winning. Some of my closest friends are Warriors fans, but they’re not annoying. It’s annoying because their richest, courtside fans are tech startup bros — people who are insanely rich, sitting courtside like going to a matinee or whatever, and who do not care.”
The Knicks and their fans, however, are legit annoying. They have zero championships since 1973. They have not been relevant since Pat Riley was their head coach. They are overexposed because they happen to play where most of the NBA media is located. This annoyance is entirely warranted. They should be number one.
“The Knicks are annoying, but I do feel bad for them,” says Toledano. “No one wants to go there. They don’t win. But they are annoying. Their fans think, ‘They should be a Knick, playing in New York is so great.’ I don’t think they’re great to any of the stars they have. They’re rabid for what reason?”
The Heat have won three championships since 2006. The Heat have the most driven and undervalued NBA player since…no one? Jimmy Butler is a one-of-one, a player who can elevate an eight-seed — a team that struggled in the play-in game, a team that barely even made the playoffs, but sure enough showed up to the NBA Finals. The Finals! The only other team that did that was the 1999 Knicks, in a strike-shortened season. The Heat were not supposed to be playing in June.
The 2022-23 Miami Heat also cost a lot of people a lot of money. They were heavy underdogs against the number-one seed Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat won that series 4-1. The Heat were underdogs against the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and they won that series 4-2. The Heat were, once again, heavy underdogs against the number-two seed Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. They won that series 4-3. Most people — more importantly, most gamblers — did not expect the Heat to make the Finals. Most people did not think they’d be tweeting about the Heat in May and June. And most gamblers were definitely annoyed by the presence of the Miami Heat in May and June. Good.
The Heat are perennially underestimated and underrated. It’s so, so dumb. Why would you ever bet against Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra? Why would you think Jimmy Buckets wouldn’t do superstar things in the postseason? Why get annoyed by fans of a team that consistently underpromises and overdelivers?
The only reason to be annoyed with the Heat’s fanbase is because you’re annoyed with yourself, having bet against the team. Or because you invested in cryptocurrency (I think it’s safe to say that going from the American Airlines Arena to the FTX Arena wasn’t a good idea). Or because you wish they never retired the Vice City Edition jerseys.
The Heat and their fans are not annoying. The Heat are great. This annoyance is entirely based on gambling losses. If/when they get Damian Lillard, then NBA Twitter will be a little more justified in their annoyance with Miami’s best team.
The Knicks are annoying, with nothing to show for it. The Knicks suck. The Knicks should be number one.