For the past 30 years, sports fans of a certain stripe haven't shut up about soccer's inevitable ascent to the top of the American sports heap. And each time they’ve opened their wine-stained lips, a beer drinker in cargo shorts has been there to shout them down. America will never go for a game – the tired argument goes – that encourages pretty boys to react to minor contact like they’re on the receiving end of a targeted missile strike. Thanks to the Miami Heat, those guys are going to need to a new line of reasoning.
If Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh have taught us anything over the last four years, it’s that flopping is no longer anathema in American sports. Sure, viewers reacted with disgust last night when Wade pretended to be shot in the head to draw a foul on Manu Ginobili. And yes, LeBron and Bosh have been roundly ridiculed for their dramatics. So, how have NBA fans registered their disapproval? By buying more Miami Heat merchandise than any other fanbase. This past season, LeBron and Wade were numbers one and seven in league-wide jersey sales. Those numbers aren’t likely to shrink if the duo co-hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Of course, Wade and James' popularity has got something to do with their talent. They’re both Hall of Famers. Bosh probably is too. When people buy their jerseys they’re thinking about the rim rattlers and step backs, not their imitations of a trout on dry land. But it’s that unique skill that makes the flops so frustrating. Wade had the highest shooting percentage for a two guard in 29 years this year. LeBron has an annual MVP subscription. Why resort to bush-league tactics to get to the free throw line? These guys refuse to acknowledge their flopping, so we’ll probably never know. What we do know is that Heat fans have absolutely no right to make fun of Cristiano Ronaldo’s inevitable World Cup hysterics.