MIAMI – Game 7s do more than settle championships. They define legacies.
No matter what happens tonight, LeBron James and the Miami Heat, and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs have already won NBA titles and secured a place in history.
Now is their opportunity to elevate it.
The truly memorable teams won the hard way, and that will be the case for the one celebrating at center court this time.
“As a competitor you love it, because you know you have an opportunity and it’s up to you,” Heat guard Ray Allen said. “We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, this game.
“It’s something our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of. Forever will remember these moments, so we want to not live and have any regrets.”
Allen played in the game the last time the season went down to the last day, the Boston Celtics fading at the finish and falling 83-79 to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010. That made home teams 14-3 in finals Game 7s, with no road team winning since Washington beat Seattle in 1978.
Overcoming those odds, not to mention the NBA’s winningest team, would make this more memorable than the Spurs’ previous four titles, though this is a franchise that never dwells too much on the past or looks too far into the future.
All that matters is now.
“You know what, it’s all about just winning the title. It’s not about situation or what has led up to it,” Duncan said. “It’s a great story for everybody else, but we’re here for one reason, one reason only: It’s to try to win this game (tonight). We have had a very good season thus far, and I think we just want to get to the game more than anything.”
The teams trudged back to the arena Wednesday, about 12 hours after the Heat pulled out a 103-100 overtime victory in Game 6 to even the series. The Spurs, five points ahead with 28 seconds left in regulation, had to fight off fatigue and heartbreak, insisting neither would linger.
“I think – I know – that game will go down as one of the best finals games that’s been seen,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who said he woke up with swelling and stiffness in his left knee Wednesday but said he would play tonight.
For Miami, a 66-win season that included a 27-game winning streak – and perhaps the whole Big Three era – will go down as a failure if it falls tonight.
“I want to go down as one of the greatest. And we have an opportunity to do that,” James said. “Hasn’t been many teams to win back-to-back championships. … I said last year it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, winning my first. Last year don’t even come close to what we’ve gone through in this postseason and in these finals.
“So I’ll be there (Thursday) night. I’m going to give it my all.”
Note: The Heat’s overtime win over the Spurs on Tuesday drew the second-largest audience – an average of 20.6 million – for a Game 6 since ABC started televising the series in 2003. The Heat’s Game 6 loss to Dallas in 2011, when the Mavericks clinched the title, had the most with 23.9 million.