TO Mr. Gregg Popovich, coach, San Antonio Spurs:
Sir, when they talk about the 2013 NBA Finals years from now, it would not be mainly or solely about the Miami Heat team. Of course, there will always be the Heat’s incredible survival in Game 6 of the recent playoffs to top the recall chart.
There’s no disputing how and why the Heat have been pegged this early a 3-1 favorite to repeat as NBA champs in 2014.
There’s no clear assurance the Miami Big Three would remain intact, although LeBron James is sure to stay as Miami main man next season.
Sir, I’m addressing you to thank you for your honest praise of the Miami big guns who, in your words, played Hall-of-Fame basketball in the deciding Game 7.
You did commend your team, mainly the veterans, who all came up with their usual best efforts, no matter what the odds and obstacles.
The Spurs have every reason to be equally proud as the Heat.
It was just too bad that Manu Ginobili’s expressed doubts about recovering from the terrible toils in Game 6 proved prophetic. Ginobili himself committed back-to-back turnovers, led by a pass he failed to fully handle, at a point when one solid possession could’ve made all the difference.
For Tony Parker, the floor suddenly turned slippery as he either tripped or fumbled, no thanks to the carry-over weariness from the previous game.
Those slips would’ve been unthinkable earlier in the long NBA season.
Wear and tear helped provide the big difference, although Tim Duncan, despite the aches and creaks, was an unshakeable fortress, until he made back-to-back easy misses close to the basket at the final game’s most crucial point.
To sum it up, the Heat did outplay the Spurs in Game 7.
However, this could not be said about the entirety of the championship playoffs.
The Heat won the crown, but the Spurs have won more admirers during the best-of-seven crown series which was played in very dramatic fashion home and away.
Honestly, this reporter had thought Miami would readily overrun San Antonio at the start.
But the character and composure displayed by the underdog San Antonio team throughout the title playoffs made the Spurs equally deserving of praise, and maybe greater respect.
Maybe this need not be told, but how James suddenly turned into a more subtle competitor in Game 7, thereby giving the Heat time to play with required composure, was a result of coach Popovich having put the overwhelming title favorites on the ropes.
This could be a little exaggerated, but James visibly matured overnight, thereby playing with civility and character after Popovich had pushed him to a perilous point where he had no choice but to come up with his humble best.
Above all, the NBA should thank coach Popovich for helping restore the once uneven and doubtful 2013 title playoffs to a well-loved valid suspense theater.