Wednesday, June 04, 2014

2014 NBA Finals: "One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall."

"One shall stand and one shall fall." -Optimus Prime

This is what sports are about. Not the scandals, politics, lawsuits or any of the above. It's about legacies, careers, championships, time, greatness and more. It's about perseverance, adversity and most of all revenge.

That's the beautiful one - revenge. It's intriguing to all parties. It brings you in. Keeps you cozy. Makes sure you do not switch the channel.  

I sometimes lose sight of why I watch sports to begin with. In this day and age it sometimes comes across as a jumbled mess of politics, scandals, lawsuits and, well, frankly everything I did not care about as a kid.  You are supposed to be worried and concerned about conference expansion, mega-lawsuits and other off-the-field stuff. It's hard to stick to only the game. Maybe that's the ripple affect of being older. No longer are these athletes superheroes. They are some kid two years your junior making $8 million a year as he bricks two free throws.

That's what makes the Spurs-Heat series so great. It's a breath of fresh air in a sports world void of it. It's the collaboration of all things we admire about sports, about competition.

Watch enough sports and you realize these things. You appreciate the art of competition more so than just the final result. You acknowledge Hector's efforts. Far too often we, the fans, get robbed of that. It's fulfilling to see two formidable opponents on the world's greatest stage battle for something more than the next paycheck or shoe commercial. This series goes far beyond the next Sports Illustrated or ESPN magazine cover. This is for legacies of two players in particular.

On one end you have LeBron James. The self-proclaimed King who in recent years has rightfully earned his crown and some. His Anakin Skywalker past in Cleveland was traded in for the militaristic lifestyle of the Death Star in lovely Florida. He's the best basketball player on the planet and the leader of a team on the verge of a three-peat. Since joining the Justice League in South Beach the Miami Heat have gone to the NBA Finals four consecutive years seasons, the first team to do so since the 1984-1987 Boston Celtics. The only thing separating them from the historic three-peat (and potential four-peat) are the San Antonio Spurs.
In the Spurs you have the United Nations of team basketball, who are lead by the stoic, power forward Tim Duncan. Duncan is arguably (not sure how you can disagree) the greatest power forward that has ever played basketball. He brings with him 4 NBA Titles, 2 MVPs and countless other achievements.

His only blemish? A heart-breaking 2013 NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat.

There's a certain allure to a rematch that is American. We love sequels, we love another episode so it's no surprise that we love rematches.

We, the public, wanted this rematch. If LeBron is going to continue throwing his name in the same sentence as Michael Jordan and other legends he needs a three-peat. For the Spurs to be the best team in the post-Jordan era do they not need one more ring? For Duncan's legacy to be complete does he not need that fifth ring?

When the legs stop working and the shoes have to be hung up, and the women leave, and the sponsorships go elsewhere, the one that resonates longer than anything else are the championships.

Better yet- the legacies.