You can come oh so close to victory; it’s in front of your eyes and then — bam! — it fades away like a mirage.
The San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan know what a mirage looks like as well as any other sports team in recent years. Their agonizing 103-100 loss Tuesday night to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals is enough to put Spurs fans on a diet of Tums.
A man’s stomach can only take so much before it … well, you know what I mean, and surely you know what I mean if you happen to root for San Antonio.
Seconds away from another NBA title, the Spurs now find themselves having to play one more game: the win-or-go-home variety Thursday night in Miami. They can thank veteran Ray Allen for that.
In big games, old pros like Allen often play big roles. It was his three-point shot in regulation that kept the Heat alive for a repeat. Allen did what LeBron, Chris Bosh or some guy named Dwyane Wade couldn’t do — not in a moment of a man’s sports life.
Yet tonight’s game will demand another big moment and Allen might not be the person to produce the gut-kicking ending. He has set the table for the bigger stars, men who have carried heavier loads lately in big moments than the veteran Allen has had to.
Those men are LeBron, Bosh and Wade, and also Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Now, we will see what stuff they are made of. For Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, they are facing their last hurrah. Time has eaten away on their careers, and while they all might have skills left to put on display for another NBA season, that talent isn’t likely to be sound enough next season or young enough next season or resilient enough next season to win another championship.
For LeBron, Bosh and Wade, they will be playing for what they came together to do, which was to win multiple championships. They have one in their back pockets from last season, but one championship has never been enough.
This game will cement LeBron’s legacy; this game, if he plays like the best player on the planet, can become his Michael Jordan moment.
Or, this game will solidify the legacy of Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and the Spurs, as efficient and as sound a basketball team as the NBA has seen during this hip hop era of hoops.
The underdog Spurs have done almost all that could be expected of them, but they still need to do more. They need to keep that big moment from being something that the Heat cash in.
Yet, in the back of my mind, despite all the momentum that should make the Heat the winner, I see Game 7 as the night Duncan, Ginobili and Parker stamp their place in sports history. They will prove that a heart can be unbroken.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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