The Legacy Game

We wait all year for what we are going to see tonight; a Game 7 in the NBA Finals between two teams that have put on one of the best shows ever.

Game 1 featured one of the greatest Finals shots ever in Tony Parkers bobble-fall on one leg-stand back up-double clutch-and release 0.1 second before the 24-second clock expired.

In Game 2, the Heat shot back with a 19-point blowout.

Game 3 was the world’s introduction to Danny Green and his 3-point gun as the Spurs blew-out the Heat in a 36-point rout.

Game 4 was Miami’s redemption as they broke away late and won by 16 points.

Game 5 was a team win for the Spurs as they fought off a combined 50 points from Wade and James.

Game 6 was one of the best games probably ever, as Miami came back from a double-digit deficit late in the 4th and forced overtime from a clutch corner three from Ray Allen.

Now Game 7 is here, the ultimate challenge and the finale to one of the greatest finals performances ever by two historical teams. Although the motivation is the same, the legacy they’re chasing is different.

For the Miami Heat they have two legacies to worry about. One is that of their team; the legacy of the Miami Heat. Miami is in the beginning of their dynasty, and their journey to possibly becoming one of the greatest teams ever. With a 66 win season this year and a championship in 2012 they are looking to repeat and further ink their names onto the list of best teams ever. With all the talent on the Heat in players like LeBron and Dwyane, one championship in three years is a disappointment, especially from a trio who promised championship galore.

To lose two out of three championships together the Heat could go from one of the best teams ever to one of the most disappointing.

The other legacy the Miami Heat hold in their hands is that of LeBron James. LeBron; the 28 year old phenom has 4 MVP’s under his belt, and is regarded almost everywhere as the best player in the NBA. The question that everyone loves to ask is how good is he compared to the all-time greats. He’s garnered comparisons to his airness Michael Jordan and to the electric Magic Johnson. Is he as good as those players? Yes. Does he deserve to be mentioned among the greats as an individual talent and as a dominating force of his era? Yes. But what all the greats above him have that he doesn’t is championships. Michael Jordan: 6 championships. Magic Johnson: 5 championships. Larry Bird: 3 championships. All Lebron really needs is rings. His career statistics of 28 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists boasts the diversity of the most well rounded player ever to play the game. There is nobody as physically gifted or well rounded as a player. All he lacks is the championships to really be considered one of the best. Championship #2 could be earned tonight and that would further seal his legacy as one of the best ever.

For the San Antonio Spurs, their legacy like everything they do is team first. The Spurs are the golden example of success. They’ve won 4 championships since 1999 and 3 with their core group of Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker since 2003. They have had 14 consecutive 50-win seasons since ’99 and their success – although not flashy or exciting – has been the epitome of consistent and that’s why they are where they are. Tim Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker have stayed with the team since they were drafted, the front office has trusted their scouts and the Spurs have a team full of international players willing to play together. They don’t make big trades nor do they sign big free agents. They draft well like Tony Parker who was the 28th pick and Ginobli who was a second round pick. They sign smart players who will complement their core rather than players who have big names.  Their offense is slick and unstoppable as it revolves around ball movement and player movement. To win their 5th championship in 14 years would be the ultimate cherry on top of a sundae of success.

The big question is who will win tonight’s game. Like every game this series there has never been a clear favorite. Both teams have the players to step up and both have deep playoff experience. Tonight however, I think I have a winner in mind. In the history of the NBA the host of game 7 in the finals has a record of 14-3. The last time a road team won a game 7 on the road in the finals were the Washington Bullets when they beat Seattle in 1978. Now of course it’s different tonight as the Spurs are no normal team. They have more experience than everybody else in the league and with experience comes composure and poise in big moments. If there is any team to win a game 7 on the road it’s San Antonio. However, I think tonight the Heat will take this one. When at home, role players are more comfortable. For Miami’s shooters to be at home and to have the crowd behind them, they will feel all the more comfortable. I also don’t think Tim Duncan is going to get another 30 and 16 game in Game 7. Even in the 2nd half and in overtime of Game 6, Miami locked him down and prevented his opportunities. Tony Parker has only averaged 16 points in the finals largely as a part of Lebron guarding him on the perimeter. In general it’s very hard to bet against Lebron James at home in Game 7. I don’t think Lebron can lose in Game 7 at this point in his career. I think he is too dominant and there is too much at stake for him and like he’s shown again and again like his 4th quarter in Game 6, or his 16 point third quarter in the pivotal Game 5 against Indiana, he has what it takes to win in big moments.

That’s not to say I want San Antonio to lose, I’d rather they win because I’d love to see Tim Duncan go out on a high note with his 5th ring and I think the media’s massacre on LeBron after they lose would be entertaining – remember how funny it was after 2011? I’m going with Miami but with absolutely no confidence in my prediction, so it’s really up to you to decide.

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