June 16, 2014

Not One, Not Two, Not Three, Not Four...

I know this is hating. I don't care.

The 2013-2014 NBA season is over. Last night the San Antonio Spurs clinched their fifth title in franchise history by defeating the Miami Heat at home in game five for a 4-1 series win. The Spurs are still the only former ABA franchise to win an NBA title and their victory ends the two year title run of the Heat in spectacularly dominant fashion. The Spurs victory not only returns the Larry O'Brien Trophy to San Antonio for the first time in nine years, it also marks the first time since 2010 that no former Washington Wizard won an NBA Championship. The past three years have seen former Wizards Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, Juwan Howard, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson capture titles post-Wizards.

Within 30 minutes of arriving at work this morning, I was congratulated by two people on the Spurs' victory. These were not passing comments. The first thing said to me by these two people was something along the lines of "Congratulations on the win last night." Now I have never been, am not now and likely will never be a San Antonio Spurs fan. But as a die-hard Wizards fan who suffered through back to back to back playoff exits at the hands of LeBron James when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, I guess I am known around my workplace as a guy with an axe to grind about King James. What can I say, I guess I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to my team (as if writing my own blog wasn't proof enough).

I've written this before but it's not losing to the Cavs all those years ago that gets me riled up; it's the way they did it with LeBron. Instead of a humble, we haven't accomplished anything approach that the Spurs take year after year, there was whining, crying and complaining by LeBron in each of those three series. From engineering the ejections of Brendan Haywood and Darius Songaila by crying to the officials or the commissioner to non-called but later assessed flagrant 2 fouls on Andray Blatche to whispering in Gilbert Arenas' ear when he was about to shoot all important end of game free throws (now an automatic technical), LeBron never beat us with class. And I guess that's why I got some dap this morning when I started my workday.

I don't know what it is about LeBron that gets to me. Despite all the PR errors he's made over the years, there's always something with this guy and this year's finals were no exception. It's like he's always looking for some sort of excuse and it started in game one with the leg cramps. The AT&T Center that night had inoperable air conditioning and temperatures on the court were 90 degrees or above. There's no doubt that the players were feeling it more and more as the game went on. Tiago Splitter looked like he was about having a heart attack his face was so red. The Spurs won game one handily but LeBron wasn't on the court to see it. Of all the players in the building, only he cramped up to a degree that forced him to sit out the end of the game. There's no shame in sitting out the end of a game one blowout. Sit down, regroup and come back stronger in game two, which the Heat did. But don't make up some excuse for not re-entering the game. Please!

Game two in San Antonio was taken by the Heat and the series went to Miami tied up at one game each. But home court advantage was not kind to the Heat. Two games, two blowouts. Their D looked awful and Dwayne Wade in particular, all of 32 years old, looked way past his prime. There was no competition offered by the Heat in these two games and so no excuse was really offered for the losses. They were so completely destroyed by the Spurs that LeBron and Wade didn't even make fun of any of the Spurs' players like they did in 2011 with Dirk Nowitzski.

But before game five, it seemed like the swagger was back. LeBron talked about the fact that his team had "championship DNA" and that they play best when their backs are against the wall. I have news for you, LeBron: players that have lost three of five NBA Finals cannot use "championship DNA" as an inspiration. You may have two more championships than a lot of other players, but you don't have an exclusive license on them. If anyone has that sort of DNA, I think it should be the Spurs. You really only won two titles because you colluded with two fellow All-Stars to buck the system and tip the competitive balance in your favor. Ever since that night in Miami almost four years ago when the Heat held a party to introduce the signings of you, Chris Bosh and Wade, your backs have never been against the wall. You stacked the deck in your favor. You should really have won all four years. But you didn't.

By the middle of the fourth quarter of game five, it appeared the Heat had been beaten back almost completely. The Spurs held an almost 20 point lead and it seemed that it wouldn't be too much longer before the Heat would cry uncle and fold. But the game wasn't over. It is technically possible to come back from that lead. I've seen plenty of leads blown by the home team at Verizon Center over the last 14 years in the fourth quarter. But it seemed like LeBron wasn't interested; he sat out the last six minutes. I don't get it. There's no regrouping and fighting in game six. The season's over if you don't play. I guess he wasn't all that interested. Winners like LeBron I guess don't like losing. If he's not on the court, I guess he can claim he could have prevented the loss if only...

LeBron was the first Miami Heat player to reach the locker room last night. I'm not surprised. At least he learned to shake hands after the game since he refused to do so against the Orlando Magic in 2009. Now the question is, what do the Heat do next? There is speculation that LeBron, Wade and Bosh will all opt out of their contracts and restructure their deals to try to conspire again to tip the competitive balance in their favor even more next year by recruiting Carmelo Anthony. There is also speculation that LeBron will move on to another team with a better chance of winning. For my part, I don't much care what he does. I believe there is value in staying someplace and making it better. I've been at my job almost 15 years now through thick and some pretty thin years. It would have been much easier to bail and start over somewhere easier. But I'm proud of what I've accomplished by staying. I don't imagine LeBron will ever feel that way.

No matter where he lands next year, I'll be rooting against LeBron (please, Wizards, don't let LeBron decide to sign with us). If he leaves Miami, he leaves with unfulfilled promises. While I can't imagine the Heat fans that actually stick with the team care much since he already delivered two titles, LeBron actually promised them at least eight. Doesn't look like that's coming true any time soon. If he leaves, it never will. He even said it would be easy. Guess not. 

It's 32-0 now!

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