Perhaps the most anticipated game on the NBA’s 2014-15 schedule is its Christmas day matchup between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. It will mark the first time the Cavs and Heat meet since LeBron James’ decision to leave Miami and sign with Cleveland this summer.
The game is worth watching strictly for basketball reasons. Who doesn’t want to watch LeBron, alongside Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, face off against his former running-mates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?
But the interest in this game is largely boosted by the fact that the game will be played in Miami and many want to see how the Heat fanbase will treat James. Will they be gracious and give him a standing ovation or will we hear a smattering of boos?
While there seems to be some real anger from a section of the fanbase towards James because he has not thanked them since deciding to sign with the Cavaliers, I expect James’ reception to be fairly positive.
For starters, the initial reaction to James’ decision to leave was a feeling of gratitude by many members of the fanbase. That sentiment was summed up well by Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald.
Also, the Heat will likely play a video on the Jumbotron celebrating James’ accomplishments in Miami before the game, which should get the fans to remember the good times and not focus on the sour ending.
And lastly, Miami rebounded quite well from James’ departure. The team brought back Wade and Bosh and also signed solid contributors such as Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts. The Heat might not have LeBron, but they will probably still be a top team in the Eastern Conference, so the mood of the fanbase should be pretty upbeat when Christmas rolls around.
Obviously, we’re gonna see a decent amount of fans boo James come December 25, but expect them to be mostly drowned out by all the cheers.