Now that some time has elapsed, we look back, to the Miami Heat’s epic game 7, victory over a determined San Antonio Spurs team. Reflecting back further; five . . ., six . . ., seven . . ., NBA titles James called out; the Miami Heat has won their second consecutive National Basketball Association championship title on their third consecutive run to the NBA finals. “THE DECISION” announcement by Lebron James made over three years ago was very Decisive. King James along with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, Miami’s Big Three, are delivering on what Lebron James promised upon entering his union with the Miami Heat.
The Heat, Spurs’ game 7 score, 95-88, is not indicative of what truly happen in game 7, or the entire series. The Miami Heat came within literally inches of not being in the position they find themselves in today, two-time NBA champions.
The San Antonio Spurs started their pursuit of a fifth NBA championship under Popovich and Duncan, by winning game one, after coming off a 9-10 day break between their 4-2 series with the Memphis Grizzlies before playing The Miami Heat in the finals.
The Miami Heat would blow the Spurs out in a tough must win game two, 103-84, before the series moved to San Antonio for three games. In game 3, the San Antonio Spurs returned the favor to the Heat in a 113-77, blowout of their own. San Antonio was showing the Miami Heat that keeping up with the defending champs will be blow for blow. Neither team conceded their must win games going into game 4. The San Antonio Spurs stayed true to the pattern that had developed between the two teams, beating the Miami Heat 114-104.
Game 5, took on a different flavor with Coach Gregg Popovich deciding to start Manu Ginobili with his other Big Three compadres Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The move worked and Ginobili showed up big time, scoring 24 points and 10 assist sending his team up 3-2 as the finals returned to Miami for the final two games.
Entering game 6, the Spurs knew they had put themselves in position to overcome the pattern of no back to back victories and the connecting fact, that no team has lost a must win game in this NBA finals series. A win for San Antonio in this must win, back against the wall; no tomorrow game for the Miami Heat would be a win for the ages if the Spurs could pull it off.
The Spurs started game 6, strong matching and superseding the intensity and will the Miami Heat displayed. The Spurs stood and battled Miami toe to toe finally taking full control of the game putting the heat on Miami as they trailed the Spurs by thirteen points late in the third quarter.
Miami responded and each team made mini runs until the game came down to the Spurs taking a five point lead with 28 seconds left in the game and the rest is now a history that elevated this game and NBA finals series to a realm that has pushed great into greatness, and makes greatness greater because of the challenger or so called loser. The San Antonio Spurs, in their relentless pursuit and determination to win their fifth NBA championship pushed the Miami Heat from great to the realm of greatness . . . positioned for more to come.
I was blessed to create and executive produce a video interview with the NBA’s most dominant force and by the numbers greatest player ever Wilt Chamberlain. In the interview, I point blank said to Wilt that he was viewed by many as a loser only winning two NBA championships after losing so many championships to the Boston Celtics led by the great Bill Russell.
I will never forget his response: “Andre, we did lose some big games against the Celtics. They had great teams and Hall of Fame players at every position even coming off the bench. When we did lose to the Celtics, it was a last second shot or a turnover or a bad call. I do not see myself as a loser, we pushed the Boston Celtics to the pinnacle of their greatness, with me and my teammates fighting and challenging them to the end of each battle.” The Celtics greatness we appreciate today, had it not been a Wilt Chamberlain there to challenge such a great team and coach in Red Auerbach.
How great would Muhammad Ali be with no Joe Frazier to challenge him and push him to a greatness that is greater than great? The Thriller in Manila, one of the three epic bouts Ali and Frazier fought was only realized when monumental challenges, impossible victories pushed great into greatness. Ali reached all-time greatness, but Smokin’ Joe Frazier was great too because of his relentless challenge of the, “I am the Greatest”, Muhammad Ali.
Elgin Baylor and Jerry West also played a part in the greatness of the Boston Celtics, Bill Russell and coach Red Auerbach. Can you think of a better scoring duo in NBA basketball history? Once the Celtics squeezed by Chamberlain’s Philadelphia teams in the Eastern Conference they always knew there was a game challenger who could beat them, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Eight times the Baylor / West led Lakers challenged the Boston Celtics only to lose all of those championship battles just like Wilt did, a point here, a turnover there, etc. . . These epic games and individual performances that encapsulated these games, catapulted the Boston Celtics to their maximum; which allowed the world to see the great in the Lakers, especially Baylor and West, and the greatest that is the tag line for the Boston Celtics championship era.
One ingredient that was woven into the integrity of the golden years of greatness was a show of class in losing, as well as, a class in winning when it was all said and done. When the Miami Heat closed out the San Antonio Spurs in game 7, eliminating the shot the Spurs Big Three, had for their last championship, class was in the house.
Both teams fought as hard as was humanly possible, but there was a quiet respect that each team had for who they were playing. Class and greatness was in the house. When the game was over you could see that San Antonio were champions too because greatness knows greatness especially when you have chased them down only to be turned back . . . you give the respect.
The Miami Heat’s respect shown to the Spurs after their victory showed that they are growing as they take their first steps into greatness. They had a good role model; the Spurs are all class and champions at heart.