It is said that nearly everything fades with the passage of time.
This can said of physical objects like buildings and paintings. It is also true when it comes to feelings, particularly ones of vitriol and bitterness.
The Miami Heat are experiencing this right now when it comes to how they are viewed in one city, Cleveland, OH.
Ever since LeBron James chose to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the Heat’s ‘Big 3’ it was logically assumed that the city of Cleveland would hold the most venom for the team, and they did not disappoint. When the Heat came to face the Cavs at Quicken Loans Arena for the first time in the 2010-11 NBA season all that home crowd was missing were pitchforks and torches. The city also celebrated loudly that Miami lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Slowly though, that coldness has thawed as the Heat have become back-to-back champions. Those titles have turned that venom into a grudging respect for Miami. Most of all, it has slowly changed the attitudes of most when it comes to James. Last season a fan rushed the court with a shirt that had the words ‘We Miss You LeBron’ in the middle of a game and got a five from James. Tonight that fan is part of an organized ‘Come Home Lebron’ movement anticipating the likelihood that James will opt out of his current contract with Miami in the summer of 2014.
The Heat will still get booed at the ‘Q’, but there will also be cheers both for the hometown kid in James but for a team that has endured incredible scrutiny to leave their mark in NBA history.
That is the bonus of becoming champions, it can gain you respect even in the most hostile of territories.