Game Seven — all that a sports fan can ask for.
Even more so than the mighty Super Bowl or a World Cup soccer championship match, Game Seven is the pinnacle of sports excitement. Reaching the championship of a tournament and playing for it all is always going to be a thrilling experience.
But Game Seven is more than that.
Game Game Seven is the final battle in a war of attrition. Both combatants having met and squared off six times prior, the seventh game is all that is left when two forces have been evenly-matched for a whole series. Now something’s gotta give.
The sports universe — and more specifically, the basketball world — was just treated to such an event with the highest of hoops stakes on the line. When the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat faced off last Thursday, it was the culmination of a series and a season that kept us guessing all the way up until the final minute.
Loyal NBA fans were rewarded for their season-long dedication with an exciting stretch of playoff games, topped off with excellent NBA Finals, which was decided by a the smallest of margins.
A back-and-forth series played out like a chess match between two of the most experienced Finals teams in the league.
When the Spurs took Game Five in San Antonio to push the series to 3-2, everyone had a feeling LeBron James and the Heat would return to King’s Landing and slaughter their foe in Game Six, forcing the climatic final game.
And that’s what happened: The Heat won. But no one was anticipating, arguably, the greatest Game Six ever played.
Ultimately, that Game Six would prove to be the best chance the Spurs would get.
Holding a 94-89 lead with only 28 seconds remaining, the Spurs had a 98.6 percent probability of winning that game, and therefore avoiding Game Seven altogether and heading home as champions for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons.
But the Spurs’ championship hopes were dashed after an epic Heat finish, led by a headband-less James scoring 18 points in the final quarter and overtime. Oh, and there was that unbelievable three by Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, Mr. Ray Allen, to force the overtime.
And when the smoke cleared and dust settled at the end of the instant classic, all that remained was Game Seven. Unfortunately for the Spurs, they left all they had on the American Airlines floor in Game Six.
Manu Ginobili said it best when asked how his team would respond for the emotional final game.
“I have no clue how we’re going to be reenergized. I’m devastated,” said Ginobili.
And Ginobili’s words would prove more than telling. Despite a heroic effort from the ageless wonder, Tim Duncan, and the rest of the exhausted Spurs in Game Seven, the Heat were too much.
There are plenty of moments that San Antonio can dwell on.
For instance, why wasn’t Tony Parker in on that crucial fourth quarter possession? What if Duncan had tied it with that hook shot in the key? Who did Ginobili owe money to (because he played like he was throwing that game)?
But in the end, they fell at the mercy of the King and his court of knights (Wade and Bosh) and jesters (Birdman and Mike Miller).
A dominant regular season by the Miami Heat made us question if there would even be competition on their way to a second-straight title. Thankfully, the Spurs proved to be worthy opponents and pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination.
With a busy offseason looming, we may see some changes to the Heat as we know them. But as of now, LeBron hasn’t been entirely inaccurate on his prediction upon his Miami arrival: It might not just be a matter of winning a ring, but how many?