It may have been short, but series was special
Yeah, I know.
So sue me, life will be back to normal soon enough.
Of course everyone wanted more and the end was anti-climatic and there was something of an empty feeling when it all was over because we all wanted more but what the heck.
That was delightful and competitive (except the second half last night) and when the dust settles and the sober light of day dawns, I think there are a few things we can all agree on:
The best team won.
LeBron James is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
The Oklahoma City Thunder cemented their reputation as everyone’s favourite or second-favourite team. Yes, the stories today will focus, rightfully so, on the Heat and what the championship means to them but in defeat the Thunder may have grown even more.
Throughout the series, guys like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and James Harden and coach Scott Brooks – the faces of the franchise, trotted out every night to explain what had just happened – comported themselves with dignity and honour and class and there is no feeling other than respect for them today.
They didn’t whine about the officiating, they didn’t use their youth as an excuse or a crutch, they were dignified in defeat and, at times, wondrous on the court.
The easiest thing to say is that their time will come, that this was just part of the inevitable journey because that’s how the game works, you bide your time and take your lumps and come back to fight another day.
But easy isn’t always correct and doesn’t always happen.
And the Thunder knows it.
Nothing is guaranteed in this or any other sport, things happen to derail what’s seen as likely, injuries happen, skills stagnate, other teams get better.
To see Durant on the podium after the game was to see a guy who knew that, too, and it made the hurt even harder to handle.
“It hurts, it hurts, man,” was what Durant said.
One thing that did come through, however, is that the Thunder realizes it’s going to take as much work to get back as it did to get here the first time and the over-riding thought having watched them is that they will do whatever it takes. Brooks harped on it incessantly during the series – his team is mature beyond its years, the players work hard every day because they know to stagnate is to take a step back – and it was entirely believable.
I like that Thunder team, I love their ability and I appreciate their professionalism and dedication.
Nothing is given and maybe this is a one-time thing but the sneaking suspicion is that OKC will do whatever it takes because it seems to be in their DNA.
I think there aren’t too many better ways to finish a road season than sitting on a stool with a Stella and a wing and a couple of good friends (although I’m pretty sure the comely barkeep’s idea of saying goodbye and congrats with a shot of Goldschlager wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done) even if the 3 a.m. last call was a tad late.
And if you can hear this on the jukebox, it’s all the better.
(If you ever get to Miami and can find Mike’s on the ninth floor of a condo, tell ‘em I said hi.)
I have no idea when I’ll get to it, there’s a mid-afternoon flight and I’m pretty sure a night on the couch awaits but let’s get some more and I’ll get it done.
Speaking of that flight, it’s direct to Toronto and that’s fine and dandy but I was kind of hoping for a weekend adventure.
Yeah, I would have been able to avoid a weekend in Oklahoma City if we had to go back because plans were in place for a quick visit to Houston to see Lithuania play Great Britain and to hang with Jonas Valanciunas for a bit.
The Lithuanians are there on their way to Venezuela for the final Olympic qualification tournament and it would have been fun but it had to be cost-neutral and got quashed when the Heat won.
I need home time more than I need an extra two nights on the road if there’s no real reason to go.
Now, I don’t know what the scene was like on South Beach or anywhere cool and I certainly wasn’t about to stay out late and find out but I will say this:
The folks in the part of Miami I was in celebrated peacefully but joyfully and it really was something to see.
Folks hanging out of car windows and standing in convertibles with traffic going nowhere, singing and screaming, Meringue music beating, pots and pans being hammered and, really, good clean fun.
You know, kind of like Yonge Street after a first-round pucks playoff game win, only a bit louder.
And it only took us about 30 minutes to make what’s normally a five-minute drive.
Okay, what do we do now?
Yeah, guess it’s not going to be so quiet after all.
You know what I don’t care a whit about?
People in Cleveland.
Look, LeBron James gave them seven years and took them to the Finals, he made all kinds of money for all kinds of people, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert got himself a couple of Ohio casinos thanks in part to his ownership of the Cavs.
James never bad-mouthed the city, he tried to do his best when he was there and after seven years – an eternity in any pro sports these days – he exercised his right and when to look to play elsewhere.
Get over it.
Sure, I can understand short team feelings of disappointment after the greatest athlete the city’s ever seen or produced jilted you but, really, time to move on.
Okay, time to pack, find out if I have to write today and then get on to the first slow day in what seems like a very long time.
Then we’ll really start talking draft.