All kinds of stuff on the line in a stressful Game 7
You know, Erik Spoelstra was right.
Two best words in sports.
But the thing is, I’ve always thought it’s virtually impossible for a Game 7 – in any sport – to live up to the expectations of fans or even guys like me and there tends to be some kind of letdown once they’re over.
I’m afraid some guys play – I don’t think “scared” is the word; I’m afraid some guys play “carefully” because there is so much on the line in just one game.
And tonight here in Miaml, there is so much on the line it’s absolutely incredible and adds a layer to this game that didn’t exist the last time I saw a Game 7 of an NBA Final in person, which was Spurs-Pistons in San Antonio in 2005.
What’s up here tonight?
How about Tim Duncan?
If he wins his fifth title at 37 years old in a time period that spans three different decades, it puts him in the pantheon of the greatest basketball winners of all time. We’re talking – seriously – Kobe Bryant territory and not that far behind the Jordan fellow and right up there with the likes of Larry Bird, too.
Think about it. It’s not like he’s some aging veteran who’s just along for the ride, he’s playing a huge role on a very good team.
Maybe it’s his personality, maybe it’s his style of play but I don’t think he gets the credit he should. I’m not entirely sure he will even if the Spurs get off the mat and win this one but he most certainly should because we are witnessing one of the greatest careers in North American pro sports history.
And how about LeBron James?
I cannot think of a player held to a higher, more unfair standard than James, who has to be everything to everybody every night.
He’s too passive; he’s too wiling to pass rather than shoot; he shoots too much.
And when it’s all over and done with, his team generally wins, he puts up astronomical numbers (two triple-doubles in six NBA Finals game this season is nothing to sneeze at) and he’s central to almost every result.
Does he need this one to validate himself? Probably, at least in the eyes of many fans, rightly or wrongly. Can he? Let’s see.
I defy anyone to think with any certainty they know what’s going to happen tonight because as this series has unfolded we have seen no carryover from one game to the next.
And the greatest hope I have is that the enormity of the event doesn’t overwhelm too many of the participants. This series, as weird as it’s been, deserves a great finish.
I don’t know that I can recall a guy who was better suited for the TV role he played than James Gandolfini was for Tony Soprano. News of his passing last night truly, truly sucked.
And when you’re doing the list of TV theme songs …
Has to be on the list, right?
So how about the Dwane Casey news yesterday?
Nothing too earth-shattering, that’s for sure, but I’m glad they got around to making it official and public that he’ll be back for his third season because it makes total sense at a handful of levels.
First of all, I think he’s a good coach, he’s got a distinct style he wants to play (and wavering from it at the start of last season is something I know he regrets a bit) and judging from a quick conversation yesterday, he’s got the full support of his general manager in that.
So, yes, I truly believe he deserves a shot at the third season with basically a group he couldn’t work with an awful lot last season after the Rudy Gay trade because of the lack of true practice time once the season is underway.
But here’s the other point.
If you’re Masai Ujiri and it’s the first year on the job and you took the gig as late as he did, why play the one major card you’ve got right away?
Why not save it for either next summer or – I’d hope not but it’s possible – some time in the middle of the season.
The thought of a head coaching change in June on a team that no one can say will look the same at camp as it does today made no sense to me at any level.
Glad, for Dwane, that their were people in the organization who think the same way.
Things I Don’t Care About, Vol. 12,835,614
Whether or not LeBron James wears a head band tonight.
Help a fella out?
If you’re going to see Mavis Staples and Dr. John at the main stage of the Toronto Jazz Festival on Saturday night, what’s the drill?
Bring lawn chairs? Get there crazy early?
Speaking of …
Okay, as much as I’d like one last beach, pool, shopping, constantly having fun day here, it’s not going to happen.
That’s because we’ve got a date at noon, not for some lunch in tall-backed booth somewhere but for a little chat.
Be there or be square.
And if you can’t, there’s always email@example.com.
So there is some angst down here in Miami over Chris Bosh saying yesterday that the fans who left the arena with a few minutes left in Game 6 – and the video of it is pretty classic – should “stay home” from Game 7.
He’s being ripped a bit in some circles for having that opinion, or at least for voicing it, and that’s so misguided it’s not even funny.
Look, I bet if you asked a handful of his teammates privately, they’d feel the same way; the media gets on some top athletes for being boring with what they say in public, we cannot criticize a guy for actually saying what he feels.
Good on him.