The San Antonio Spurs were “oh so close” to bringing home their fifth NBA title in 15 years. When I say “oh so close,” I mean they were up five points, and they were 28 seconds away from likely reeling in the Larry O’Brien trophy (key word being likely.) “It isn’t over ’till it’s over” and “it isn’t over ’till the fat lady sings” are phrases that will be around as long as this game is.
The Spurs had an extremely high probability of winning the championship when they were up five points with 28 seconds in regulation. Then a very unlikely sequence of events occurred: a LeBron three-pointer, a missed Spurs free throw, a Miami offensive rebound, and a Ray Allen contested three in the corner.
That game 6 loss can be described as brutal or heartbreaking. Yes, a lot of luck factored in Miami’s miraculous game 6 comeback in the last 30 seconds. However, even as outstanding of a coach Popovich is, he made a highly questionable decision that could have changed the result of the game: taking out Tim Duncan, their best rebounder, on Miami’s final possession in which they were behind by three huge points.
“Pop” was so worried about stopping Miami’s perimeter shooters that he didn’t opt to put in his longtime superstar, Tim Duncan, in order to secure a defensive rebound. But it’s over now, and that is a decision that Coach Popovich has to live with. Here’s where the twist comes into play: that decision will not affect his tremendous coaching success in the least bit.
Popovich and the Spurs cruised to the NBA Finals as they went 12-2 before meeting the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. San Antonio wasted Memphis in four games and they made it look easy. Don’t get me wrong; Russell Westbrook’s postseason ending injury most definitely was a big game-changer. The Spurs may have had to deal with the Thunder again, but that’s something we’ll never know.
The fact of the matter is that San Antonio, once again, had a remarkable season. About four years ago, I don’t think many people would have guessed that the 2013 Spurs would be an elite team. After last year’s 4-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Spurs could have just come to their senses and tried to reconstruct their team. However, the Spurs were never known to employ that method following an unsuccessful postseason.
San Antonio would keep it’s head up high as long as the dynamic duo of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan remained. The addition of stellar young players, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, kept high hopes and expectations for the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these young players had tremendous postseasons: Danny Green set the new record for most three-pointers made in the NBA Finals (26) and Kawhi Leonard could not have done a better job guarding the league’s most dominant player (LeBron James).
The Spurs were extremely unfortunate to let this series slip away, but credit must be given to Miami where it is due. The Heat were starving for this championship. As Chris Bosh first pointed out, many of Miami’s disgruntled fans strolled out of the arena at the time they were down five points in game 6. Bosh must have been fed up with the impatience and unappreciation of their fans because he was determined to grab that series-saving offensive rebound (which led to Ray Allen’s game-tying corner three.)
Sure, another ring would have been fantastic for Tim Duncan, but in all honesty, that loss won’t do much damage to Tim Duncan’s spectacular legacy. Manu Ginobili is well past his prime, and through the years, he has served as a consistent third wheel for the Spurs. Tony Parker is the man that missed out the most on another championship opportunity: in the past two seasons, Parker has been the guy most responsible for San Antonio’s ascension. A ring in 2013 could have taken his desirable career to another level.
At the end of the day, the best team in the league, deservingly so, won the championship. Even Gregg Popovich stated that “the better and more athletic team won.” San Antonio well understands that they let an enormous opportunity slip away. However, this undeniable Miami Heat team they lost to, makes this historic comeback a bit more reasonable. A substantial amount of luck did go Miami’s way, but I’m getting the vibe that they were destined to win. A few special hall-of-fame players made it happen and proved that 2013 was their time.
San Antonio’s seven game defeat should bring an important point to attention: that is, nobody’s perfect…not the Spurs, not LeBron, not Jordan, not anyone. There are times you will celebrate and there are times you will stumble. A loss wasn’t what San Antonio had hoped for, but at the very least, they can take this valuable experience with them and include it as part of their memorable legacy.
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