Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 6/19/13
You can always refer to last night as "the game when LeBron lost his headband." (Photo credit) There are a lot of ways I could’ve started this column. At one point, it was going to be the text I received from our co-founder Evan Kendall (more on that later) with 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter. I considered a quote from the column I wrote after Game 5. This isn’t the kind of thing that you want to mess up, so I’ll just get right to the point. That was the greatest basketball game I’ve ever seen. I hate saying it. There are so many reasons it shouldn’t have gotten to that point. As a Heat hater, I’m still pissed that Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard missed free throws down the stretch. I don’t understand why Gregg Popovich took Tim Duncan out of the game or why he chose not to foul on the final possession and play the free throw game. But you can only give a team like Miami so many breaks before they take over. They played four Hall of Famers down the stretch, what do you expect? They obviously couldn’t have expected the Spurs to choke at the end as much as they did. It was an anomaly, a once-in-a-lifetime break that they took advantage of to win the game. But the other twist of fate? That one’s a bit more perplexing. At around 4 PM on Tuesday, I told Evan that if the Spurs won, we had to get my postgame column up immediately on Wednesday morning. If Miami won? We’d wait until Thursday. Evan knows how superstitious I am. He knows that I do things like refuse to take off my jacket indoors if I think it’s helping my team. Until the day I die, I’ll never know what possessed him to send the following text with 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter: “So, article needs to go up tomorrow?” I came a lot closer to quitting over this than he realizes. You never, ever, jinx a title game like that. It’s sports fandom 101. It turned a Spurs victory and title into whatever the hell I just watched. And honestly, I’d be a lot madder about it if it didn’t turn into what I just watched. After Game 5 I wrote: “What we’re seeing is two great basketball teams adjusting to each other on the fly and bringing out the best in each other. Don’t think that’s not the case just because it hasn’t ever happened at the same time.” Well... Game 6 was when it all happened at the same time. You can argue for Game 5 of the ’76 Finals, but nobody in that game comes close to the historical significance of Duncan or LeBron. Game 5 in ’87 had only one legendary moment (Magic’s baby skyhook). Jordan’s last game as a Bull? Please, it was Karl Malone, we knew he’d blow it one way or another. But Game 6 of the 2013 Finals? It was the culmination of everything we’ve argued over for the past year. It was two great teams pushing each other to their absolute limits, playing styles that both embodied the new school (all of the shooting, LeBron’s singular brilliance) and old school (San Antonio’s screens, Duncan’s throwback, Miami’s trap defense). Can Chris Bosh play defense? His D won them Game 6 and was huge in Game 4. Is Tony Parker on Chris Paul’s level? He hit two of the biggest shots of the game. Can Tim Duncan still play like a superstar when necessary? 25 and 8 in the first half. LeBron? Well... you saw what I saw. As much blame as he deserves for the first three quarters, and as much as he may have lucked into a shot at overtime considering his screw ups in the final minute, he was huge in the fourth. Everything was settled, at least for the moment, on the court. Parker’s two shots were amazing. LeBron’s first three-pointer will never get enough credit, but it was a huge shot, too. Really, the list of memorable plays that happened last night is too long to recount, so I’ll cut to the chase and get to Ray Allen’s shot. Ray Allen’s shot is when it went from a game to something more. It’s when the outcome of a basketball game became a memory. Put aside the fact that Ray Allen FINALLY has a signature moment (go ahead, find me another one), and that Miami now has a chance to steal this series. Just recognize the sheer brilliance of the shot itself. It’s why we watch sports to begin with. Every game, every play, is a chance for something amazing to happen. What we normally get are the first five games of this series, the occasional nail-biter, plenty of blowouts, and a menagerie of forgettable players making forgettable plays. When we’re lucky, we get Game 6. Moments that will last lifetimes; legacies redefined in 24-second whirlwinds of “WTF did I just watch?” It’s what we want out of every game, and last night we were lucky enough to get it. As much as I would’ve preferred a San Antonio win, the alternative is pretty damn enticing. We would’ve seen Duncan win his fourth Finals MVP (and after that first half, it was going to happen), LeBron get raked over the coals, Wade’s knees questioned, and too much speculation over whether or not the Heat could keep their team together. All valid points, and to varying degrees, all things I’d enjoy, but we’ve spent the past few years arguing about the same things. Now we get to flip the script. We get one game to decide it all. It’s sports in its purest form. And it all came about because of two great teams forcing the absolute best out of each other. If you can’t get past the bad guys winning and see that, then you shouldn’t be watching sports to begin with. That in itself is what made the game so amazing. There comes a point every now and then where you watch a game and think “no matter what the outcome, I’m going to remember watching this game.” That moment came at around the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter for me. I was nursing my fourth beer, Miami was clinging to a tight lead, and all I could think was “damn, I love this game.” When I think back on Game 6 in 50 years, I’ll remember the experience of watching the game a lot more than Allen’s shot or LeBron’s lost headband. I’ll remember standing at the bar at Royale on Avenue C with a group of people I’d never met rooting for a bunch of millionaires who don’t know our names. I’ll remember arguing over calls with the loud Heat fan in the wife-beater, I’ll remember putting my headphones around my neck midway through overtime in an attempt to turn San Antonio’s luck, and I’ll even remember how mad I got at Evan when he sent that damn text. It’s all part of the experience. It’s why we care so much in the first place. So, you’ll get your Game 7 preview on Thursday. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss the old stalwarts like LeBron’s legacy and Duncan’s brilliance. For now, just take a moment to digest Game 6. Really think about how great a game it was. Remember that as much as the outcome may have sucked, we’re in it for the journey, not the destination. And last night, we got one hell of a ride.  By: Sam Quinn Twitter: @Rhinos_Cry_Too

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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