Was the NBA Finals 2013 Fixed?

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    Jun 23, 2013
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Was the NBA Finals 2013 Fixed? Photo by Gabrielle Williams

Congratulations to the Miami Heat and their victory. But was it a true victory? Questionably so. Many wagonists of the sport or actual Heat fans would shake their heads at the thought of that. However, with some thought, any person that has watched basketball for at least 15 years or more should realise that something was awry with the coaching choices of Gregg Popovich also known as 'Pop' for the Spurs.

The coach is not on the court and has no control of whether or not the ball goes in the basket, but he certainly influences the plays made on the court and decides who should be on the court in the first place. 

Pop has coached San Antonio Spurs for the past 17 years, the longest tenured coach in the NBA with 4 titles. He has never lost a final. With his experience, actions taken from Game 4 onward in the NBA Finals versus the Heat have been unlike him. The last 6 or 7 minutes of the fourth quarter in Game 4 had nobody substantial on the court. In fact, Splitter and Bonner were on the court at the same time. How was that blunder even possible to make as a coach?! Now Game 4 was similar to Game 1, where the game was relatively close, back and forth for the first three quarters. Both teams played well to the end in Game 1, but Parker's amazing clutch shot on the shot clock buzzer basically sealed it for the Spurs. In Game 4, regardless of Miami's marginal lead in the fourth, there was a bit over 6 minutes remaining, that is a lot of time. Why was Parker, Duncan, Leonard, Green and Neal ALL off the court. Ridiculous if you ask me. Ginobili was also left on for some amount of time scoring hardly anything and turning over practically every other ball possession. So with over 6 minutes remaining and a remarkable show in the previous game put on by Green and Neal, basically all starters were left off the court. This IS questionable and I just innocently wondered if Pop threw in the towel too early on that one. But then I thought, wouldn't it make sense to try and win Game 4 and seal the Championship on home court in Game 5 instead of risking it and going back to Miami for a Game 6? After beating the Grizzlies 4-0 before and winning the Championship in 2007 over the Cavaliers 4-0, we know that Pop and the Spurs are capable of closing when they want to. So, looks like Pop threw that game to me.

Television ratings were needed, the stadium in Miami with unsold seats was waiting, the people wanted more. Did Pop get more? The created excitement of a back and forth finals led to Game 7 having the 2nd highest televised rating in 15 years for the NBA. But was the back and forth by chance or influenced? The answer to that question was unfortunately answered in Game 6 where after a brilliant first half played by veteran, Tim Duncan, he was taken off the court in the second half. In a Game 6, when a team has the chance to win a championship without a home court advantage and their lead is not by 20, no player should be tired and the lead scorer and experienced rebounder should not be taken of the court. Not only was Duncan taken off the court to watch his team miss a crucial rebound influenced by Wade and a 'bad bounce' of the ball resulting in LeBron scoring a 3 pointer, but he was kept off the court even after that happened to watch his team miss a rebound AGAIN, leaving Allen of all people free to force the game into overtime. Unbelievable. Then ofcourse the icing was put on Miami's 'victory' cake when the foul call was not made on Ginobili in the final seconds of the game, thus forcing a Game 7.

It is critical to note though, that officiating was poor against both teams in Game 6. I would not say one more than the other, but when a 'no call' is made clearly deciding the winner of the game, that is more devastating and suspicious since it is in the home team's favour that is behind in the series with the Championship they are defending on the line. If the Spurs won in Game 7, it would definitely be unforgotten as it would be highly unlikely for that to happen after being mentally and physically beaten, having to face the pressure of a Game 7 in a tough Miami crowd. They however managed to hold their own in Game 7, still keeping faith of a chance to actually come back and win. Then once again, lets not forget Danny Green finally scoring a 3 in the fourth quarter and Pop taking him off the court IMMEDIATELY not allowing him to even catch a rhythm. Was everybody blind? That move by Pop again is not understandable to me. Game over. 

 

The euphoria and hype that has built up with regards to LeBron James winning his first title last year and pursuing a back to back ring has been remarkable. It was as if it was written and expected for this to occur. A Spurs win would be devastating to not only the advertising industry, LeBron fans and Miami fans, but to LeBron himself and the Miami franchise, based on the amount of sponsors followed by endorsements that were looking to capitalise on the Heat defending and winning the Championship. LeBron James has been given a hard time by many. He had a lot riding on this season, as well as Tim Duncan at 37 years old, a 14-time NBA all star from the Spurs who already has 3 MVP titles and 4 rings looking for his 5th in a 15 year span, never losing a final, watching so many star players come and go. To me that would be more impressive than LeBron's back to back MVP and title win. In all fairness, its not like we haven't seen that before. However with Kobe and the Lakers not in the picture this year, and LeBron certainly having more years to go than Tim Duncan, another win for him would definitely 'seem' to be more appealing. Lets also not forget the chance for him to try and come back next year to help the Heat win 3 straight titles to join the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls. 

This also brings up the question of if basketball is a team sport anymore. For the Spurs, they have been unselfish towards each other for the entire season. Players took their turns stepping up in each game throughout the season and weren't held back from performing like Wade and Bosh from the Heat so LeBron could shine. Yes Wade has suffered injuries and Bosh has been inconsistent, but it is a known fact they have had to make sacrifices.

LeBron James is making an effort to be the best or one of the best ever in the NBA. He will be one of the best, I will give him that but he will never be THE best. 6 rings like Michael Jordan or 11 like Bill Russell seem to be out of his reach. Jordan NEVER got swept in or lost an NBA final. LeBron got swept by the Spurs when he was with the Cavaliers in 2007, went to the Heat with the backing of Wade and Bosh and still lost 4-2, not even forcing a Game 7. Jordan did not even know what a Game 7 was, if LeBron was so great he should have influenced closing the series by Game 6. In fact I was expecting a blowout in game 7 after the Spurs were psychologically crushed. Jordan would have scored 40 points or more.

So LeBron may be the best in the league right now by stats, but its not because he is the most talented, as the talents of others are comparable. Its because he has been the most consistent. You should unarguably have the greatest talent AND be consistently on top in order to not only be the best but to be unforgettable in history. I got the pleasure of growing up, watching Michael Jordan play, and since then nobody has been comparable. I give props though to Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant for their dynamic movement, footwork, fakes, turn around jumpers and style towards the rim. Its a pity Parker could not be more consistent when it counted.

The Heat have not yet created a dynasty. But lets hope other teams like the Spurs, Knicks, Pacers and OKC are given a fair chance next year to challenge the title and not just succumb to a cliche movie ending.

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