I don’t want LeBron James and the Miami Heat to lose every single game. I just don’t want them to win when it counts the most. And I feel great after seeing the Heat burn (oh yes, pun intended) at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
I held a grudge of sorts against the Spurs ever since they had beaten my beloved Brooklyn Nets. Then, they were the New Jersey Nets … and, yes, I have been a member of the Nets Nation prior to Day 1 in Brooklyn when they got all fancy with the black and white, selling merchandise like nuts. That jumping on something hot (pun not intended this time) is also a reason I hate the members of the LeBron-Heat bandwagon. But since then I have matured, and as you mature you begin to see things in a different light.
I know there is a reason I despise James and the Gang, I just can’t put it into words. It’s a certain something, a certain je ne sais quoi that compels me to hate. It is counter to the way Tim Duncan is low-key, coach Gregg Popovich is a mastermind that seemingly can integrate any player into his system (except you, Stephen Jackson), and the Spurs organization just go about their business of developing the members of their basketball family.
Through the first three quarters of Game 1, when Duncan couldn’t buy a bucket from mid-range, when all the open three-point looks garnered through exceptional ball movement would rattle out, when it seemed that the Heat would pull away, the Spurs were right there, keeping at it until the nine days’ rust from sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies wore off. The Spurs kept setting screens and pick-and-rolls, finding the open look and firing away. The mental wear-and-tear that was put on the Heat did not allow them to put the game away.
For most of the fourth quarter, with the exception of one or two possessions during which James had shown the grit and determination to attack the basket, the end of the game was very reminiscent of James’ NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. At one point, with Duncan rotating to cover James just below the three-point line, the latter chose to drive-and-kick instead of taking the less agile and less mobile defender to the rim. On a different possession, James, after a few unsure dribbles, chose to pass to an open Chris Bosh for a fruitless three-point attempt (0-for-4 on the night from beyond the arc). Once again, James displayed a lack of clutch and determination to take the game into his own hands, draw contact, and at the very least get to the free-throw line.
The same cannot be said of the whirling Tony Parker and his will to hold on to the ball (nearly losing it three times) and take the game’s most meaningful shot. And, by the way, how many NBA Finals MVP trophies does Parker have? One, same as James. And maybe by the end of this series, Parker will add one more.