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ESPN.com Launches The Heat Index

The day has finally arrived.

ESPN’s Heat Index has launched.

And originally, I wasn’t going to dedicate another post to this new section, but this is gold for anyone who isn’t associated with this project.

I give credit to TrueHoop editor Kevin Arnovitz for trying to tackle the issue of why ESPN decided to launch the Heat Index in the first place:

Why do this? Why devote so much energy and so many resources to the coverage of a single NBA team? Does that really make sense for a national NBA outlet like ESPN.com?

I’ve heard these questions from friends who work in all corners of journalism, fans and a communication executive from an NBA team. They’re questions I’ve asked myself as I prepare to shift much of my individual focus toward the 2010-11 Miami Heat.

The short answer is that we’ve found an insatiable appetite for news about the Heat among basketball fans. Even after the initial firestorm over LeBron James subsided, readers stayed with the story of the Heat all summer and into the fall.

Most impressive about that sustained attention was the breadth of issues you could find in the discussion. Implications of James’ decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami extended beyond basketball. Pretty soon we were debating race, regionalism, free markets, the hazards of personal branding and whether sports teams are civic trusts or bands of mercenaries. The examination of these subjects occurred before the first flashbulb went off at Media Day.

All of those points that Arnovitz laid out aren’t unique to just the Heat. These are topics that have come up in the NBA over the years.

Now, all of a sudden, it’s the backbone and justification for “Miami Heat: 24-7 Coverage?”

Yeah, OK.

While you’re at it, are you going to sell me on Christopher Columbus discovering America as well?

I’ll be curious to see what the traffic is like for the Heat Index once the NBA season gets rolling. If the fans are truly interested in 24-7 coverage of the Heat, I have no problem admitting fault.

In the meantime though, I’m still not buying it.

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