If you go almost anywhere these days, you are going to find Lakers and Heat fans. The Lakers have long had a national fan base and, by virtue of being the best team, the Heat attract people who enjoy success without the difficulties of trouble — ask yourself if you remember Harold Miner, Heat fans.
A new map and study created by The New York Times shows exactly how pervasive Heat and Lakers fandom is around the country:
All that black and gray is pretty much Heat fans. And even in most counties, the Heat are the second or third most favorite team. All that purple on the West Coast? That is for the Lakers. And their stretch reaches even into Arkansas and all around.
That is the power of a national brand. Clearly those teams move the needle in an extreme way which is why we were subjected to the Lakers on national television at the end of the season when they had no chance at making the Playoffs and were embarrassing themselves.
The Heat’s growth is rather impressive. They would probably be like several teams with concentrated fan bases around the city. But the presence of LeBron James and the chase for titles has elevated them to national status.
Not every title contender is this way however. The Thunder’s reach radiates out from Oklahoma City, but does not go much farther. Pacers fans are largely concentrated in Indianapolis.
What this chart shows is that the Lakers are extremely popular and remain so.
Now, quibble with the methodology plenty. The New York Times calculated fandom by a team’s Facebook likes coming from each individual county throughout the nation. That could definitely skew some numbers. But it seems as accurate as any other metric and this is all just food for thought.
The wave of Heat bandwagoning is either really high or people all want to take their talents to South Beach.