The Spurs threw a sucker punch last night. A 92-88 victory in Game 1 in Miami, and if some wide-open looks hadn’t rimmed out, it might not have been that close. LeBron put up an absurd 18, 18 and 10, but the supporting cast stayed home once again—no Heat player besides LeBron had more than 5 rebounds or 4 assists—and a Spurs win Sunday might put Miami’s “destiny” on hold. One title in three seasons with that roster? Not a great look.
Some things are as true in the NBA Finals as they are on the playground: a great team always beats a great player. Sure, almost every NBA champ has featured a HOFer, but just as many have had great teams around their stars. Ever get that feeling when you’re playing pickup with a bunch of average Joe’s, and you feel like you have to do it all yourself? Right now, LeBron is getting next to nothing.
Of course, last time we talked bad about LeBron, he near singlehandedly shut our mouths in Game 7 against the Pacers. We’ve learned our lesson—for now, looks like our prediction of a tight series is right on track.
We’ve profiled dunkers, dribblers, trash-talkers, and everything in between…but any old baller can’t call out a legend like Vince Carter. You’d need to be Half-Man, Half-Amazing.
Turns out, VC was about six years late to that iconic nickname. The true owner, as bestowed by legendary Rucker Park emcee Duke Tango, is Anthony Heyward. So it was no surprise that, in a 2000 AND1 television spot, it was Heyward telling Carter and the world, “When you come in the hood, things change.”
What’s truly amazing about Heyward is that unlike most AND1 ballers, he was no child star. He didn’t pick up a ball ‘til he was 14, played just two years of high school ball, and never rose above JuCo. But he matured later in life, as a player and a person, and after completing his degree he returned to the streets and made himself a legend.
Perhaps Half-Amazing’s career highlight was dominating the paint as his Rucker team defeated a Bad Boy team anchored by number-one NBA draft pick Joe Smith. Not bad for a guy who played two years of high school; maybe he’s more than Half-Amazing.
Last time we had a Game 7 in the NBA or Conference Finals, LeBron dropped 31 and 12 as the Heat finally buried the Celtics. The time before that, Kobe Bryant’s famous 6-24 FG game was just enough to deny Boston its second title in three seasons, in an 83-79 slugfest.
Tonight, the Indiana Pacers try what you heard was unthinkable: beat the Heat. All the articles you’ve read about the Big Three, and Miami being miles ahead of the rest of the East, or even the old “the team with the best player always wins” adage…yeah, Indy’s out to shut a lot of mouths tonight.
And if history is any indication, it’s gonna be a classic. We’ll check back in tomorrow when the dust settles, but for now, be thankful it’s come this far. This is why you love the game.