[ed. note: the sidebar (fanshots especially) are filling up way too fast with random Heat stuff. And since this isn't a Heat blog, it seems a bit much. Not that I don't enjoy laughing at the Heat, just want to consolidate it more. So if you have stuff on the Heat, put it as a comment here. -ed.]
SCHADENFREUDE - "The pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others"
(If you don't like aimless & rambling rants, please read no further…)
When I used to see the word Shadenfreude in print (come on, nobody actually 'says' the word Shadenfreude, do they?), the example that would come to my mind would be of those lucky multi-million dollar lottery winners - you know the ones - those that would quit their jobs, blow their wads on luxury cars and poor investments, and eventually wind up broke and destitute (No Scottie, I'm not referring to you). It wasn't a real sense of pleasure in that you want to go out and celebrate, but just one of those smug feelings where you know someone had a rare chance at something, and they blew the opportunity. Then, sometime early to mid 2010, a fellow by the name of Tiger Woods threatened to become my poster child for Shadenfreude… Tiger was the arrogant billion dollar golden boy with supermodel wife who walked on water, spat and cussed as he demolished playing fields, and widely ignored the fans who flocked to see him weekly, yet the world gave him a pass because he was 'Tiger', and his ability to perform on the playing field seemed to hold detractors at bay. In my mind, Tiger's comeuppance was long overdue, so it still gives me a little bit of pleasure to see him humbled nowadays by announcers and players alike, and to see him struggle while he tries to re-discover his swing. I hope in the long run it will make him a better man and a better golfer but the outcome is yet to be seen. But then… then… something happened in July 2010 that would forever shake my world…
…and that thing began with the culmination of the 2010 NBA Free Agency, combined with the trainwreck called THE DECISION, and followed shortly thereafter by the absolutely ludicrous staged presentation of the Miami Heat 3 (James, Bosh, Wade), complete with full uniforms, smoke machines, chest beating, muscle poses, falling sparkles and prancing down the catwalk to high fiving screaming fans.
I'd rather not go into a full recap of events. I think everyone knows what lead to this series of events… everyone knows about the perceived betrayal in Cleveland… and the ridiculous ruse that the 3 perpetrated while interviewing with numerous teams and leading the masses into thinking that their cities had a chance at signing a superstar… (only to have the bonehead Bosh come out later and state that they knew all along that they were going to Miami). Everyone knows about the subsequent discussions of championships, the assaults on the single season win record, and the perception that the 3 would somehow revolutionize how basketball would be played in the NBA… we've heard it all… and we continue to see it being aggrandized every single night on ESPN… Worship the 3. Worship the 3. Worship the 3.
Unfortunately for the 3, most sports fans (along with most people in civilized society) don't like seeing things handed to others on a silver platter. The notion that one has to 'work' to achieve something (like the rest of us) is a deeply seated sentiment. Work for it fellas… and don't carry yourselves like entitled jerks wanting others to bend to your greatness… and don't get upset when others come gunning at your self-annointed 'greatness'. Don't complain when a 7' Turkish fireball dives for a loose ball by your prescious ankle. Don't complain to the press that your coach is making you work too hard when you want to 'chill'. And don't shed tears and come out brooding for the post game press and say, "The world is a better place now since the Heat is losing." ---- to make reference to world events and the resultant impact from a Heat loss?... It's exactly this type of self-centered arrogance and lack of self-awareness (and for that matter - lack of a PR baby-sitter) that is causing NBA fans (including reportedly their own Miami Heat fans) to turn on the 3… and likewise spurring reluctant bloggers like myself to waste prescious time putting thought to keyboard… and giving free passes to would be detractors
to come forth and express (hilarious) opinions.
So comes my new personification of Schadenfreude… in the 3-headed talent that plays out of Miami. Sure, they technically have not failed at anything - yet…. but they give many an unlimited potential for daily Schadenfreud-istic satisfaction just by their actions alone. They are tremendously talented, but also so full of ego, and so lacking in a clue… that perhaps their true identity is to be the common enemy in the NBA… the team that you almost have to root against. Even in Tiger Woods' prime, his naysayers respected his talent and revered him… but the Miami 3 have been non-discriminatory in putting off almost all levels, from the fans - all the way up to announcers, players, owners and hall of famers… and it seems everyone is lining up to take their shots at the 3.
And now, as the Heat seem to be circling the wagons and taking on the "Heat vs. The World" mentality for the 12th(?) time this season, you have to wonder what would happen if these guys would actually just shut up and play. Excuses and egos out the window, this team is capable of a deep playoff run this year if they can develop the chemistry and learn to use James and Wade together. But where would be the fun in that? Personally, if the 'entitled' Heat are to succeed, I feel it should not come without their fair share of struggles (although a 43-20 record is hardly a struggle for most). So... as long as the Heat remain an ego driven me-first team, I would like for them to continue to struggle to find their identity, and I will enjoy their misfortunes… yet I will also be the first to give them respect if they can learn to play like a true team (unlikely)... But who knows? -- maybe it's in the best interest of the NBA if the Heat identity for the next 6 years is to be the "Lex Luthor" of the NBA… because for every great Lex Luthor, there needs to be a greater Superman... and I'm hoping that Superman resides in the Eastern Conference.
Update - upon search, there was already a similar post on the celtics blog on schadenfreude, so hopefully I'm not repeating too much of the same.