Last year’s Finals were the greatest Finals of this generation. Not since I was a kid have I watched the NBA with such awe as I did in Game 6 and 7 between the Heat and the Spurs. As Bill Simmons brilliantly put it, we watched those games knowing that we were watching history. And it’s kind of amazing that we get a sequel.
The first time I remember knowing that I was watching history was in 1992. It was Game 1 of the Finals, and all the pre-game talk was centered around the Jordan-Drexler matchup. I was too young at the time to know that this was clearly a media-created debate, since any logical person at the time would have known that MJ was head-and-shoulders above Drexler. But whatever. It was Game 1 of the Finals, and Jordan had only won one title at the time. Maybe Drexler was better.
You know what happened next. Jordan played a perfect first half, scoring 35 points, and shrugged his way to history. I watched from my parents bedroom, dancing gleefully, and acting like the purest of fanatics. I barely even saw the second half, because the minute halftime came, I grabbed my basketball, and ran across the street to my elementary school to play pick up basketball with whoever dared to play me. I just had to.
That’s what great basketball moments do to me. They get me so amped up, and stir my imagination so much, that I just have to go play basketball. Whether I can actually go play basketball, or just toss a ball around in my living room, I just have to. It was the same last year during Games 6 (and Game 7). I was a ball of pure energy after the game, and stayed up late going over the game in my mind. In the middle of the night, I went downstairs and watched the entire 4th quarter and overtime again. I just had to.
Last Saturday I went with my two nephews (both 12 years old) to a local park to play basketball. It was a perfect evening, and I loved it. For starters, I kicked their butts. But more than that, playing with them took me back to when I was young, and it reminded me how fun basketball was for me back then. Back when Michael Jordan was annihilating everyone in his path, including poor old Clyde Drexler. I had so much fun with my nephews, in fact, we went again yesterday. After all, if something is fun once, why not do it twice?
If only everything were that simple. In professional sports, we fans don’t get to pick and choose who plays who in the Finals. We take what the basketball gods give us, and be happy with it. When they give us a decade of Celtics-Lakers, we gladly deal with it. When Michael Jordan retires (and then unretires, then retires, then unretires, then retires) we just deal with it. When we’re subjected to awful Finals between the Lakers and Nets, or the Spurs and Cavs, we just deal with it. So now, when the gods give us all a rematch of the greatest Finals of our time, I just hope we can all be thankful for it. Because this is going to be awesome.
My pick: Spurs in 7.