STILL CAN’T FACE SPUR’S LOSS? NEITHER CAN AARON
Added by Aaron Guttenplan on June 26, 2013.
Thursday was a difficult day for sports fans as we watched Lebron James topple the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty, seemingly for good. I won’t count Tony Parker and Tim Duncan out completely, but it’s unlikely they will ever come this close again.
You’ll notice I didn’t include Manu “unforced turnovers” Ginobili. After coughing up the ball on two consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, I refuse to acknowledge him as a basketball player or a person (which might be a tad harsh). During the final moments of the game, I didn’t feel as though the torch was being passed to Lebron. It was more like the torch was wrestled from Tim Duncan’s clutches.
Throughout the fourth quarter San Antonio managed to stay within striking distance, even though Miami appeared to be in control of the game. With five turnovers in the first 11 possessions of the final quarter, San Antonio was lucky to be as close as they were at the end.
Then, the ultimate heartbreak came with under 50 seconds to play. The Spurs had managed to cut the deficit to two when Duncan received a pass from Ginobili in the post. With the smaller Battier guarding him, Duncan immediately took one dribble, turned and threw up layup.
Of course, we all know he botched the shot. A shot we’ve seen him make a zillion times. I suppose we should give some credit to Battier for his defense and box out, but I think the basketball gods were trying to tell us something.
As an avid anti-Heat fan (meaning I didn’t root for anybody this playoffs just against Miami), Duncan’s missed layup has to rank in the top five worst moments in sports that I have personally witnessed. The 37-year old big man knew that he had missed his moment and his frustration was painful to watch. While running back on defense after missing the shot (San Antonio was short on time outs), Duncan pulled his jersey up over his face for a second, seemingly trying to block out what had just happened. He knew he would not be taking home his fifth championship that night. But as the leader of the team, he quickly got his game face back on and continued to compete for the final minute of the 2013 season. As horrible as it was for me to watch Duncan miss that shot, his suffering must be a thousand times worse.
Let me explain my desire to see Miami fail. I don’t necessarily hate Lebron. I know he takes more undeserved heat than any other player. I think people make too much of “the decision” (I hate that I even have to put it in quotes). Lebron knew that his legacy would suffer if he didn’t get some rings so he made the best choice for himself (sorry Cleveland). People have a certain hatred for Lebron that seems totally out of place with his unselfish play. Don’t rope me in with all of those haters just because I like to root for the underdog (somehow in this case the San Antonio Spurs were the underdog). Who wants to root for a team that clearly has a better shot? I’d much rather see an upset.
With all of that being said, there are a few things that I am forced to admit. The best player won. The best team won. For someone that was scrutinized as much as he was, Lebron was very gracious in victory. He has continued to modify and improve his game over the years and he has an incredible work ethic considering he is already the most gifted athlete on the planet. After months of rooting against him, I am forced to admit defeat.
My good friend Colin and co-pilot for the last two rounds had an interesting thought. He said, “To root against Lebron is to root against progress,” which may be true. He’s clearly the best in the world, and there’s at least a chance that he could be the best ever. Maybe it’s time to get on his side. It would be great to be able to tell people I watched the greatest ever, especially since I am too young to have seen Michael Jordan.
Therefore, I have decided that I will continue to hate on Jebron Lames for one more season. If he completes the three peat, his “best player ever” resume will look pretty good, and I may have to jump on the bandwagon. Here’s to you, Lebron. You’ve just about won me over. (Now excuse me while I vomit.)