CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- By the time you read this, Miami Heat power-forward-sort-of-center Chris Bosh might be a hero in South Beach.
Last night was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Bosh might have gone off for 30 points and 20 rebounds and put the ki-Bosh on the San Antonio Spurs.
After Game 6, however, Bosh called out his own team's fans. Some of those fans left that game early, when the Spurs were up by five points with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. You probably know the rest of the story. Miami came back and won in overtime.
Afterward, Bosh ripped those fans - the "premature evacuators," as Sports Illustrated's website called them.
"For all those guys who left, make sure they don't come to Game 7," said the player. "We only want the guys who are going to stay in the building for the whole game. You never give up. People gave up on us and they can stay where they are and watch the game at home."
Many of you probably cheered his statement - because many of you stay until the very end of games. For the most part, West Virginians do stay until game's end. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've been impressed - surprised even - that WVU football fans not only stay until game's end, but beyond to sing "Country Roads" with the team.
Heat fans, meanwhile, have been criticized by many over the past three seasons for either showing up late, leaving early or both.
I bring this up to again prove a point to athletes and coaches. That point is this: Don't bash your home fans. Ever. Rarely does anything good come from it.
Again, Bosh's statement might have been cheered by many. It might have resulted in a filled house at Game 7's end. But it almost certainly also ticked off those who made the mistake of leaving early.
Understand those who left early paid a big price before and after the game. One report said it cost at least $397 per ticket for Game 7 - for standing room only availability. In the lower bowl, nothing was available for less than $995, with an average of $1,200 per seat. The cheapest seat courtside was $29,413. The most expensive courtside chair was $58,825. Yes, $58,825, according to StubHub via the Associated Press.
Of course, afterward, the fans in question had to be kicking themselves. Some tried to get back in, but understandably were not allowed.
So why kick a fan - one helping to pay your salary - when he or she is down?
I understand athletes are competitive and loyalty is an integral part of the bond between athletes and teams and fans.
Yet wouldn't it have served Bosh better to say this:
"Wow, I feel sorry for those fans who left early. They missed a heck of an ending. Hopefully they'll stick around next time."
The point would have been made, and Bosh would have endeared himself to those fans.
Again, if you're a coach or athlete, do yourself and your team a favor. When you feel the urge to criticize fans, go to these two words: No comment.