A dramatic final for a new generation

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ALEX AGUEROS (digitalBURG) – The endless streams of narratives that follow an event as grandiose as the NBA Finals, especially in the information-age, are inescapable. The sports experience has broadened its landscape from the radio and television, to your Twitter or Facebook page, to your smartphone, to your tablet, and so on. Non-stop updates on each player and coach are available, all with their own unique hashtag.
And yet with the surplus of manufactured narratives and extracurricular discussion, exceptional basketball took center stage for the 2013 NBA Finals, providing us with one of the most compelling, dramatic and rewarding finals series in history.
On one side we have LeBron James and the Miami Heat, the defending champs led by the reigning MVP. Opposite them are the San Antonio Spurs, a beacon of consistency and quiet dominance. To simply write off this series off as “New School vs. Old School” or “Flash vs. Fundamentals,” despite any supporting evidence, would be disrespectful to the extraordinary competition showcased these past two weeks.
The Miami Heat did defeat the San Antonio Spurs in seven games, with the finale last night serving as a proper ending to a record-setting NBA Finals, the best finals this generation has seen.
San Antonio went into the series looking untouchable, having swept two of their series’ to arrive in Miami for game one of the finals. Miami, on the other hand, were happy to survive a seven-game series against the precocious Indiana Pacers.
Last year’s champions looked as vulnerable as they’ve ever been, having entered the playoffs losing as many games in the Indiana series as they lost in the months of Februrary, March and April combined. The Spurs stole game one from Miami, as Tony Parker banked in an instant classic floater as the time expired on the shot clock. The Spurs had stunned at the champs — in Miami.
After the game, Heat forward Shane Battier said, “If you give him an inch, he’ll beat you. That’s what happened there in the fourth quarter. He made us pay.”
The two exchanged blowouts, with an iconic block from James on Tiago Splitter highlighting a 103-84 romping of San Antonio in game two. The Spurs returned the favor when the series moved to San Antonio, with Danny Green and Gary Neal combining for 51 points on the game, doing their damage from beyond the three-point arc.
Aging superstars dimmed, and eventually shined again for each team with Dwayne Wade and Manu Ginobli being non-factors for the early games. Wade eventually poured 32 points in Miami’s game four victory, and Ginobli scored 24 with 12 assists in San Antonio’s game five triumph. Along with Ginobli’s return, Green gave an encore perimeter shooting performance, breaking the record for most three-point field goals made in a finals series at 26, much to the dismay of the former holder of the record, the Miami Heat’s Ray Allen.
The Finals’ apex arrived during the overtime epic that was game six. In what will be hilariously remembered as the “headband game,” James returned to Miami and delivered a triple-double. And while the performance was legendary in itself, James’ infamous ditching of his headband, the butt of so many jokes on Twitter, Facebook and the office water cooler, will be remembered most vividly.
Then came game seven, the ultimate symbol of competition. A winner-takes-all, even playing field, leave-it-all-on-the-court situation helped breakdown what made this series so great. Impressive performances from each side, whether from four-time MVPs, lovable role players like Green or Chris “Birdman” Andersen, or big-time shots in crunch time from seasoned vets like Allen and Tony Parker had carried the teams, not media-forced narratives. In this compelling finals series, the basketball did the talking, and it would come down to one game.
James carried the Heat to their second straight finals championship with his 37 points, putting what very well might be San Antonio’s last run with Parker, Tim Duncan, and Ginobli to rest.
Many will talk about the impact this series will have on the legacy of everyone involved. One could liken the series as a metaphorical “passing-of-the-torch” from one big three to another. Fans will point fingers at those who “choked” and others who were “clutch.”  But in the end, what made the 2013 finals so incredible weren’t those lazy narratives, but the awe-inspiring play from franchises that delivered the first classic Finals to the new generation of sports fans.