Shane Battier knows more than most athletes about being on a team that people despise. A little over a week ago, he won a championship with arguably the most hated team in NBA history. Over a decade ago, Battier cut down the nets with probably the most hated team in college basketball history. The obvious question to ask a guy like Battier is which team receives more negative attention: the Heat or the Blue Devils. His answer may surprise some.
“The biggest difference was when I played at Duke I never saw one Battier jersey in an opposing arena,” Battier said during an interview with WFNZ in Charlotte. “Being the guy at the time, I looked around and never saw one. At least in these arenas that we go to now, in every city there’s some LeBron and Wade jerseys out there so the vitriol was pretty thick but talking to the guys it wasn’t as deep-rooted and as thick as it was a year ago.
“I think people appreciated, if you’re a basketball fan there’s no way you couldn’t appreciate the way our team played especially LeBron and the year that he had, so I think we won a lot of people over with our style of play.”
I disagree. Heat haters are Heat haters — Miami’s style of play didn’t win them over. The difference stems from the fact that college basketball fans are far more rabid than NBA fans. If you go to a playoff game in Miami or anywhere else in the country, you might see guys like Lil Wayne, David Ortiz, Charlie Sheen or Alex Rodriguez sitting under the basket. In college arenas, the stands are loaded with students who want nothing more than to be able to celebrate a championship during their collegiate careers.
Simply put, it’s a matter of loyalty and commitment — not the Heat winning fans over with their style of play. As a whole, college fans simply seem to care more.
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