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Sports villains may be infuriating, but they're fun to have around

POSTED August 24, 2013
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia

Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, back in June, a group of 100 or so people stood up and started to cheer.

The reaction was for the San Antonio Spurs, who were dribbling out the clock in their Game 5 win over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The cheering, coming from a sports bar on a Carnival cruise ship, was loud and, by the sound of it, you would have thought the Spurs sent their own fan club to the boat.

In reality, there was not one true Spurs fan in the place.

The cause for such jubilant bliss was LeBron James and the Heat losing. Going back to the summer of 2010, LeBron infuriated basketball fans worldwide with his signing show on ESPN and then with his "Not 6, not 7..." declaration at that obscene welcome party in Miami. Fans started to root just as hard against the Heat than they do for their own teams. This may sound twisted and maybe it just is, but LeBron signing with Miami was a great thing for the NBA.

If the Pacers had defeated Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, there probably would've been 20 or less people at the bar that night, plus the TV ratings would've been a disaster. LeBron in Miami became the ultimate sports villain. And people can not look away.

Same goes for the infamous Alex Rodriguez.

Everything he says, everything he does, everywhere he goes, something seems go wrong.

Off the top of my head, since he's become a Yankee, we've seen the slapping incident against the Red Sox, the stripper incident in Toronto, the pop-up incident also in Toronto, the sun-bathing photo shoot in Central Park the New York Post ate for lunch, Madonna, Kate Hudson, eating popcorn fed to him by Cameron Diaz at the Super Bowl, the kissing the mirror magazine photo, illegal underground poker games and, of, course, steroids. And I'm sure I'm missing something.

Needless to say, A-Rod is not exactly Mr. Popular. Yet again, though, people can't look away.

Since his unwanted return to the Yankees, ratings on the YES Network are up considerably. Attendance at Yankee Stadium, which has been dead all year, is up. Twitter was nearly blown up Sunday night during all the antics going on with him and Red Sox.

Like LeBron, in a non-conventional way, he draws people in.

And having them around, quite frankly, makes things more interesting. Embrace the hate.

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