MIAMI—These NBA Finals were apparently about the kids.
Whether it was Tim Duncan spending a few minutes with his children at halftime of Game 5 of the series — a scene captured by television cameras as the Spurs’ forward sat on the floor resting up for the second half — or Miami Heat star LeBron James celebrating one of his sons’ birthdays in San Antonio last week, kids were never out of mind for either team during the title series.
“They know if I won or lost,” James said. “But for the most part, when you have them around, man, it puts everything in perspective.”
James was planning to spend some time before Game 7 of the finals on Thursday night against San Antonio watching television cartoon character SpongeBob with his kids, and most of the Heat players were expected to have the vast majority of their families in the building for the final game of the season.
Heat forward Chris Bosh said even at the most important time of the season, having his children around makes life much easier, especially because they aren’t wrapped up in the pressure that comes with trying to win an NBA championship.
“Kids are the best medicine because they don’t care anything about the game,” Bosh said. “They don’t even know what Game 7 means. Of course they know Daddy wants to win and they want Daddy to win and that’s good enough. But all they want to do is have fun, smile and play.”
Playoff shares: The Heat and Spurs were playing for a little something more than the NBA title on Thursday night. There also was a small amount of cash at stake.
OK, “small” perhaps might only be in NBA-player terms.
In actuality, the clubs were playing Game 7 for $776,717.
Such was the difference in the playoff shares that the clubs would be receiving from the league out of this season’s $13 million pool of postseason money. The winning team on Thursday night would be getting an additional $2,302,232 to split however it chooses from the league office; the losing team would be getting an additional $1,525,515.
Entering Thursday, the Heat had already earned $1,509,376 in playoff-share money, broken down thusly: $374,947 for finishing with the NBA’s best record, $328,078 for having the best record in the Eastern Conference, $194,016 for playing in the first round, $230,853 for playing in the conference semifinals and $381,482 for appearing in the conference finals.
San Antonio’s take through three rounds was $1,070,046. The Spurs got $263,695 for finishing with the second-best record in the Western Conference and the same allocations as the Heat did for appearing in each of the first three playoff rounds.
This was the second straight season where the league’s playoff pool was $13 million. It’s never been higher, and in the 1951 playoffs, players and coaches shared a postseason pool of $50,000 — that would only be about $447,971 in today’s value.
Whistle watch: More fouls were called per game this season in the NBA than a year ago, though whistles apparently blew at a less-frequent rate than at just about any other point in the last quarter-century.
Entering Thursday, there were an average of 39.99 fouls called per game (including both the regular season and the playoffs) in the NBA this season, up slightly from last year’s 39.39-per-game clip.
Still, that looks like pretty good behavior when compared to just a few seasons ago.
In 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, NBA referees called an average of 45.16 fouls per game. Put a different way, referees called more than 7,700 fewer fouls this season than they did in Miami’s first title season of 2005-06.
Predictably, fouling out was about as rare this season as ever. Going into Game 7 of the NBA Finals, there had been just 297 disqualifications this season — less than half of the 599 in the 1999-2000 season.
Quotable: The final practices of the season were shootaround sessions for both teams on Thursday morning, and both produced some of the best one-liners of the entire series.
From Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, asked about his legacy: “Food and wine. It’s just a job.”
And from Heat forward Chris Bosh, about the fact that Thursday is the final day before summer vacation starts: “It’s like the last day of school. Except you have to do work.”
Free throws: No matter what happened in Game 7, the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony was assured of finishing no lower than fifth in field-goal attempts in this year’s playoffs. That’s the first time someone who played in only two playoff rounds has finished among the top five postseason shot-takers since Allen Iverson managed to do so for Philadelphia in 2003. … Unless someone got there in Game 7, it was shaping up as the fourth straight postseason where no player posted a 50-point game. Ray Allen, now with the Heat, was the last to drop half-a-hundred on someone in the playoffs, scoring 51 for Boston against Chicago (in triple-overtime) on April 30, 2009. … The Spurs played 103 games this season, third-most in franchise history (106 in 2002-03, 105 in 2004-05). Game 7 was the 105th contest of the season for the Heat, tying their franchise record set in the 2006 championship season. … Game 7’s referee crew was Danny Crawford, Scott Foster and Monty McCutchen.