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You might think it will be difficult to hate the Nuggets’ Finals opponent. After all, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has led a band of undrafted NBA afterthoughts who barely qualified for the playoffs past the numbers one and two seeds in the Eastern Conference to earn a shot at the championship. And who doesn’t love a Cinderella story?
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We dug into Miami’s sordid past, despicable present, and appalling future to discover a team that’s greasier than Pat Riley’s hairdo, more fetid than the bog its arena is built on, and sketchier than its home state’s public schools. The resulting list of sins proves that the Denver Nuggets are not only competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy—they’re fighting the forces of evil.
1. The Miami Heat’s founding owner was un-American.
Ted Arison was born in Palestine but landed in the United States, where he founded Carnival Cruise Lines and, in 1989, the Hated Miami Heat (HMH). So he did pretty well here, racking up a fortune estimated by Forbes to eclipse $5 billion. But when it came time to repay Uncle Sam, Arison split: In 1990, he renounced his American citizenship in an attempt to avoid paying the estate tax when he died. Unfortunately for poor ol’ Teddy, he had to live outside of the United States for a decade to escape the IRS but suffered a fatal heart attack just months before the deadline, er, cutoff.
2. The Miami Heat was the original Superteam.
The HMH brass gets a lot of praise for compiling a team full of Jimmy Hustles who might not be stars, but, Dadgummit, they’ll dive for that loose ball! In reality, Darth Riley is to blame for the current trend of superstars joining their superstar friends to inflate the fortunes of one franchise (see: 2016–’19 Golden State Warriors, 2021–’23 Brooklyn Nets, 2020–’23 Los Angeles Lakers) while leaving the fanbases that raised them utterly destitute. As HMH President in 2010, Riley lured LeBron James’ “talents” to South Beach, where he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and essentially stole two titles in four years from teams who do things the right way (see: 1976–2023 Denver Nuggets).
3. Jimmy Butler loves Nickelback.
You shouldn’t need to know more than that to despise the HMH’s star forward. But if you do, here you go.
4. Players on the Heat hate books.
Although this hasn’t been confirmed, some believe that the HMH’s logo—a ball of flame—is a secret homage to book burning. Again, this is a highly speculative theory, but one that makes sense considering Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state’s conservative legislature have passed a trio of bills in recent years that have made it easy for school districts to ban classic works, including Toni Morrison’s Beloved. We assume they have been replaced in the curriculum by something more appealing to Floridians’ literary tastes, such as Git-R-Done, a collection of witticisms from Larry the Cable Guy, a 1982 graduate of West Palm Beach’s Berean Christian School.
5. Kyle Lowry is a jerk.
Do the Heat players (and coaches) whine about poor calls like DeSantis whines about masks? Sure. But do they get violent? Only Lowry, who in 2012 pled guilty to misdemeanor battery after twice hurling a basketball at a referee, once during and once after the game—which (are you ready for this?) was a pick-up game.
6. Heat fans are all kids of awful.
At one end, you have the likes of Filomena Tobias, who in 2013 went full extension over a railing to make sure a Chicago Bulls player saw her one-finger salute. It might surprise you to learn that this incident wasn’t the most lurid event of Tobias’ life: While married to hedge-fund manager Seth Tobias, she allegedly purchased a Porsche on her credit card and would test her husband for cocaine by sucking on his nose. After Seth died in his pool in 2007, his brothers—who, admittedly, were after his estate—accused Tobias of murdering her husband by luring him into the water with the promise of sex with a dancer who called himself Tiger (he had stripes tattooed on his body). Police cleared Tobias of the charge.
At the other end of the Heat fan spectrum, you have U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who might have even less shame.
7. The Heat hates the environment (or maybe just Miami).
By 2050, up to $25 billion of property in Miami might be underwater due to rising sea levels. So what did the Heat do? Sold its arena’s naming rights to FTX, the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange—despite the fact that “each Bitcoin transaction requires tens of thousands of times more electricity to process than each Visa credit card transaction,” according to sources in the New York Times. Translation: The HMH inked a deal to promote a company whose every deal plunked another drop in the city’s sinking ship.
Or something like that.