Listen to the chatter in offices, schools, street corners, pubs and basketball courts where the young and the once-young converge: People are talking and analyzing the NBA finals like seasoned experts breaking down everything from San Antonio’s sterling performance and Lebron James’ meltdown in Game 3.
As I listen closely to the talk, fans as expected are divided into camps. But here’s the rub: There seems to be more young fans rooting for the Miami Heat while another side of fans, at least 35 years and above, are committed to the Spurs.
Is this finale a “generational thing”?
Younger folk naturally argue against what more senior folk adhere or subscribe to. We’ve heard lines from the young like “that’s so old,” or laos na ’yan (That’s so passé) when there are arguments on how to do things. The discussions are usually in the context of family decisions, corporate settings or volunteer groups where inevitably two or more generations converge or for that matter, collide.
Sports are no different from life and the current NBA finals do represent a battle between a team led by a grizzled, older generation of stars against a new crop of truly gifted athletes. The Spurs with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili won many of their fans in the late 90s and in the previous decade with their no nonsense, no frills fundamental basketball that resulted in four NBA titles.
The Heat are more of the fire and fury of this athletic era of the NBA where lobs, dunks and impossible turnaround shots are highlight reel staples. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James are the Miami Big Three that opted to be paid lower than their true market value so that they could be together and vie for a championship. They won last year and do want more before they’re done flying.
There should really be no argument as to which side plays better basketball. As Spurs Coach Greg Popovich explained in the press session after his team’s whopping 113-77 win in Game 3: “These are the last two best teams left standing. I don’t think either one of them is going to get down if they have a bad night.”
In the finals, what really matters is how the coaches prepare their teams mentally and adjust as the games progress. Coach Eric Spoelstra of the Heat tried a little of everything to stem the torrents in Game 3. But really, how do you stop a team that’s at home and nailing shots at a basket that felt so large and welcoming? Spur Danny Green hit seven of nine treys and nine of 15 field goals as part of his game leading 27-point production. Gary Neal couldn’t miss as well as he knocked in 24 points.
The supposedly old team in this championship is getting some very young help from players who are hungry and determined to shine. Green was cut twice before by the Spurs but was worked on by Popovich to keep improving and to not sulk if shots don’t go in.
Now, Spoelstra has to get his team ready to win at least one game on the road to fortify their crown defense when the series swings back to Miami. In the NBA or multi-city sports context, winning games away from home cooking and loving crowds are vital for successful campaigns. Spoelstra will remind his team that their opponents are by no means old and that this Finals is a battle of great teams regardless of age differences.