10:55 AM CDT, June 4, 2013
I know that as a Cleveland fan and general underdog-rooting sports fan, I should have been cheering for the Indiana Pacers to pull off an epic upset of the LeBron James-helmed Miami Heat, but I definitely was not because, c’mon: Not even the Pacers wanted to see a Pacers-Spurs final.
Hours before the game, I was discussing this with my friend Phil, and he brought up my general theory about the NCAA tournament, which is that upsets after the Sweet Sixteen are bad news. What you want to avoid at all costs is a final game with crappy teams that got on a hot streak. You want the best teams there, so when you, as a basketball fan, sit through every minute, you’re actually watching a decent product.
No offense to the Pacers, but a San Antonio-Indiana finals would have taken the Spurs five games, and they probably wouldn’t even show it on ABC. It would be relegated to TruTV or NBATV.com. Fewer than 400,000 viewers in San Antonio and the greater Indianapolis metropolitan era would tune in to watch the Tiago Splitter-Roy Hibbert grindfest (That last sentence is just in case Hibbert wanted to say “No homo” again; I was less appalled by the insensitivity of that comment than by the fact that guys who say “no homo” in conversation are generally tools who’ve never thought of anything original or funny to say in their lives.)
I’ve heard the argument that true basketball nerds would have enjoyed Pacers-Spurs, but I find this a pretty dubious proposition. Nerd-wise, the efficiency of LeBron James is the greatest story in basketball this season, and I think Frank Vogel and the Pacers—a team with nothing and no one coming off the bench—would’ve gotten manhandled (pro homo) by the well-oiled machine they built down in San Antone, still humming after all these years.
Spurs-Heat on the other hand is the matchup I wanted to see when the playoffs began. Russell Westbrook injury aside, the Spurs earned this. I’d argue we’re seeing the best team of the last decade play the best team of this decade (so far). It’s sort of like the Bulls-Lakers showdown of 1992—one of those rare instances where past and future meet.
(Now some might argue that the Lakers were the real dynasty of the ‘00s, but I strongly disagree. First of all, with the exception of Kobe, they were two entirely different teams. The first iteration with Shaq only three-peated because of cheating officials. The second with Pau Gasol got two legit titles. San Antonio got three out of the Duncan-Parker-Ginobli triumvirate, plus another with Timmy and Pop in the Nineties.)
As I said at the beginning of the season, I’ll be surprised if the Heat fail to win. LeBron has now become a player—and we saw this in Game 7 against the Pacers—who can choose to win a game by himself when he absolutely needs to. He’s just playing on another plane of existence right now. Furthermore, we’ve also seen that Chris “Birdman” Anderson has proven to be the greatest mid-season addition in the history of basketball, anchoring the defense around the basket. Miami’s use of the double-team to confound Hibbert in Game 7 will serve as their roadmap to controlling Duncan, and if Tony Parker isn’t scared of having LeBron up his ass (pro homo) for the entire second half of each game, he should be.
Finals start Thursday, so people looking to contact me after that, well, should not bother.
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