“How often in life do you get EXACTLY what you want??!?!” – My brother at his bachelor party, to me, repeatedly
Listen, I’m not going to pretend like I enjoyed watching last night’s NBA game. I mean, the parts where it seemed like the Spurs would win and the Heat would lose were fun, but from the moment LeBron lost that damn headband — minus a couple of those Tony Parker circus shots — the panic and queasiness I felt were remarkably similar to those I get in that recurring dream of mine where I show up for a college final after having forgotten all semester that I had even signed up for the class. As a LeBron hater first and foremost, it was absolutely awful for me, and chances are that whenever this post actually goes live, I’ll still be restlessly flipping my pillow from one side to the other, trying in vain to get visions of missed free throws and made corner threes out of my head.
Still, I am an NBA writer of some sort, and as such, I must at least attempt to attempt objectivity. And I can distance my own feelings enough from the game to be able to realize that this was indeed the game of the year — yes, even better than the Nate Robinson game, though I can tell you which viewing memory will be the significantly rosier-colored one for me — and easily on the shortlist of greatest NBA Finals games of all-time. It’s pretty inarguable, and if I couldn’t tell it my own damned biased self, the steady stream of fellow NBA scribes smarter and less emotional than myself saying as much on Twitter could’ve pretty well clued me in. The game was so good that people had to keep throwing random “Yeezus” quotes at it, just because that was the other really good thing that happened yesterday.
What made the game so great? Well, a bunch of things, and you probably remember most of them pretty well, but I think the game’s greatness can be summed up by that lead quote of my brother’s, or the catchphrase of a more prominent basketball analyst: It gave the people exactly what they wanted. Not me, of course, but for an average NBA fan with no tremendous rooting interest in this series, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more strictly crowd-pleasing game in my life. Anything you could’ve possibly wanted from that game, you got it, and in most cases, you got it in spades. Seemingly every major narrative was at play, everything that pundits predicted was going to happen happened, and any lingering desires left from the first five games of the series were satiated.
And what was it that the people wanted? Well…
1. A close game. If you had one complaint about the Finals thus far, this was probably it. Aside from Game 1, which was close through four quarters before ending with the Tony Parker .1 Prayer (yeah, this is what I’m going with, though I also liked “The Southwest Texas Floater” and “The Longest Twenty-Four” from the comments section), this series has mostly consisted of blowouts and games that were generally just over before they were over. Not so with this one, which the Spurs looked maybe a basket or two from blowing open late in the third, but which was otherwise neck-and-neck throughout, and obviously very tight towards the end. A game like this was all that was keeping this series from being an all-timer, and now that it has it, bring on the historical accolades.
2. Crazy momentum swings. I gave up counting on this one at some point in the fourth quarter. For all the mini-narratives contained within, this was a game that resisted big, sweeping narratives. Any time one storyline seemed to dominate the game, another one would zoom in to potentially take its place as the headline. It was very diplomatic, in a way. Just about everyone and everything got their turn being the focus of the game. I’m very curious how beat writers would even begin to approach recapping the events of last night in a game story, however, since I’m of course going to spend the two days from after I hit “send” on this e-mail to Trey until 8:30 on Thursday night pretending this game never actually happened, I’ll probably never know.
Read the rest of this entry »