Every superhero needs a villain. Without a villain, they’re just a guy in a costume. Part of what made Dirk Nowitzki so much more universally popular, outside of Dallas, during the Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA Championship run was the still raw animosity towards LeBron James in the wake of his ‘decision.’
Cleveland Cavaliers fans were obviously bitter and supported the Mavs, but a lot of NBA fans felt that the teaming up of three superstar players into one team was unfair and bad for the game. Ultimately, the Mavs gained a lot of support.
While that animosity has calmed down since then, having a team be the bad guy isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Whether you’re rooting for someone or against some one, having an emotional stake in the game is a good thing. The WWE and professional wrestling has used this for years.
The NFL has had teams like the Heat before, and Mavs owner Mark Cuban thinks the Heat could be the Raiders of the NBA. Oh yeah, and he thinks it is good for the NBA.
“With the two titles, they’re still like the bad guys,” Cuban said, via ESPN Dallas. “There’s a confidence bordering on arrogance that is good for them as a team and good for us as a league because it also makes them the team that everybody wants to knock off.
“They’re kind of in some respects the Oakland Raiders – and I know that’s going to get picked up everywhere. They’re kind of like the Oakland Raiders when they were winning. I don’t want to compare Micky [Arison] to Al Davis — that’s not fair — but you either love them or hate them.
“That’s always good for the NBA when you have a team that everybody looks forward to beating. Like when we beat them, I would go to places I’ve never been and people would give me a standing ovation. That’s good for the NBA.”
Someone has to be the bad guy.