You know things are getting out of hand when even the Miami Heat are sick of hearing about themselves.
Ray Allen, who took his talents to the NBA's latest trending team in the summer of 2012, delivered two clear messages to his new bandwagon fans in an interview with The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg.
His first was directed at those fans whose jerseys look a little too crisp, a little too new to be the property of a long-time member of Heat Nation. They can dress the part, but that doesn't mean that they'll be going unnoticed:
When we go on the road, you see people in Heat jerseys that have never been to Miami. We were in Utah, and I thought that same thought—like, these people, some of these people, have never been to Miami before.
Allen isn't mad at his newfound fans. In fact he told Steinberg that he found them "absolutely cool."
But he isn't as thrilled about the reason that's fueling those fly-by-the-night supporters' allegiances:
Look at all the media outlets...that talk about the same stuff. We haven't played for two weeks, and I think every time I turn on SportsCenter, they talked about LeBron in some form. And he hasn't done anything but just be on vacation. So as much as we blame the fans for being bandwagon, it's mostly the media's fault.
Ah yes, blaming the media; it's almost as popular as Allen's Heat.
But if you're willing to hear the sharpshooter out, thankfully Steinberg was, he brings more to the discussion than just a blanket criticism:
The way the league is portrayed is what [the media] puts out there. So for people all over America, that's what you see on a daily basis...People know Norris Cole more than they know anybody in the starting five for the Charlotte Bobcats, and Norris Cole comes off the bench for us in Miami, just as well as I do.
After his media rant, though, Allen shifted the blame to an even more powerful entity. "If it's anybody's fault, it's the league's fault," he told Steinberg, "because we need to do a better job of marketing every team."
Allen's solution for his employer? Pay attention to the way that big brother—the all-mighty NFL—keeps all of its 32 franchises relevant and what kind of effect that can have:
I think the NFL does a great job of that. You talk about every team, every Sunday. I truthfully would like to see even the bad teams [in the discussion]; if you talk about them, you put the pressure on them to have to be better.
The NBA is a superstar's league. Always has been, always will be. But maybe Allen's right—maybe we fail to give the star players of each team their just due.
There's a market for each of the league's 30 teams. If there wasn't, there wouldn't be a team in that city in the first place.
It's a reminder that should have never been needed. And thanks to the same platform that Allen's speaking out against, it's one that certainly won't go unnoticed.
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