Any teenage boy who has/had access to a Xbox 360 and the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” and played it as religiously as I did when I was in 7th grade knows the quote above, “History is written by the victors.” One of the last levels of the campaign features a soliloquy by the main character of the story, known as “Captain Price” who recites a quote from Winston Churchill, and then proceeds to add on phrases that Churchill did not say and are made up, but regardless get you incredibly pumped for the level ahead of you.
Anyways, the idea of the speech made me think a bit about the upcoming series between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
The series that, since Ray Allen’s Game 6 buzzer-beating three to send it into overtime (A game Miami obviously won, as well as the next one) we have wanted an encore for. It was almost inevitable that we would be back here, except for a time it really wasn’t.
Derrick Rose tore his meniscus 10 games in diminishing any real chance for the Bulls in the playoffs. The Pacers started off the season looking like they would sweep the Heat in four in the Eastern Conference Finals, but then imploded (Not as much as the media continues to say they did) but nonetheless would lose to the Heat in 6 and then afterwards confess that they never were going to beat them.
And then there is San Antonio who have seemingly defied odds AGAIN and again and again, despite age and injuries, or Kevin
Durant playing the best basketball of his life, to reach the Finals…again.
You’re lying if you said you realistically didn’t want this series to happen again. Sure Games 2,3,4 and 5 were all blowouts, but blowouts that were done in breath-taking fashion no less. This time around, there will be no blowouts, there will be seven games and it will be a series that will justly conclude an era.
To tell the tale of the NBA, much like a book you split the story up in chapters, or in this case eras. You have the Bill Russel vs. Wilt Chamberlain era, the 70’s were a decade of parity we usually don’t talk much about unless were talking about Dr. J, the Magic and Bird era, the Jordan era and the Shaq and Kobe era of the early 2000’s.
They’re other great teams mixed in there like the Bad Boy Pistons, but generally we speak of the teams and players that dominated the decade. Who has dominated the mid-2000’s to the present though?
Consistently the Spurs have been the best team in the NBA for the past 15 years and it’s hard to argue otherwise. They won championships in 2003, 2005 and in 2007 when they swept an upstart Cavaliers team led by a 22 year-old LeBron James and as well in 2013, but they would lose to a much better LeBron James and (new) Miami Heat team.
In the East, after clinching their 4th trip to the Finals, it is safe to say that the Heat have been the most dominate team in the East of the past decade or so, yes even better than the Pistons of 2003-04 and 2004-05 or the Celtics of 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The Heat big three of Bosh, LeBron and Wade are hunting for their 3rd title together while Duncan, Parker and Ginobili will be going for their fourth together. A similar story line as last years, just a year older, but this one has a little bit more spice to it because of the way last year ended.
San Antonio had another title in their hands in that Game 6, until Ray Allen became Batman saving Miami at the very last second (literally.) The loss of Game 7 and they way it happened (Duncan missing a shot he has made thousands of times) still gives the team nightmares today and they admit it still hurts.
The redemption story in sports comes off as a cliche one, but it is no more true than in this instance. Coming off as heartbreaking of a loss as Game 6 and Game 7 last year shows the true testament of the San Antonio organization to be able to get back to the Finals again.
LeBron winning his third straight NBA title would put him and the Miami Heat in the discussion of Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers and Jordan’s Bulls, even if they don’t have any business in being in that discussion. Yet,we don’t talk about the Spurs and Duncan in that way, because he is doing it over a longer period of time which seems to invalidate him from any “Greatest ever?” discussion. Duncan is only receiving credit now at the age of 38 because you just don’t see guys like him at his age dominating the game this way, ever. Duncan is in a class of his own, his game is timeless yet it receives little recognition compared to LeBron’s.
When Kevin Durant and his OKC team made it to the Finals in 2012 (Surpassing the Spurs), there was plenty of talk of a LeBron vs. Durant rivalry that would ensue over the coming years. As if it would be OKC and Miami year after year like it was with Boston and LA in the 80’s . The termination of Durant, Westbrook and Oklahoma City Saturday night by the Spurs respectfully ends all talk of that, for now. For now, its time to talk about Duncan and LeBron. The complete opposites in terms of how they play the game, yet they still find ways to achieve the same results.
History will be written by the victor in this series, and will thereby acclaim the title, Best team of this era.