In season 3 of the Wire, there’s an opening scene in one of the episodes where Omar Little and Brother Muzone, two assassins have a classic western standoff. The tension was immediate and never waned as both men launched one-line zingers at one another for the better part of two minutes. No shots were fired. After the both men returned their guns to the holster, Muzone offers Omar a proposition to which Omar replies, “Omar listening.”
Like Omar and Brother in their standoff, neither the Spurs nor the Heat refused to budge in Game 1. It was as if both teams made a pact that neither team would allow the game to get out of hand in one way or another. It was difficult to tell who was in control of the game throughout. The ebbs and flow of the game were dramatic on the court, but the scoreboard never truly reflected the seismic shifts in momentum. The game hovered around a 5 point deficit or lead for either team, with neither ever able to put the game out of reach.
This is must-watch, don’t-go-to-the-bathroom-unless-it’s-a-commercial type action. Even with San Antonio up 7, with less than two minutes to go, the game still seemed up for grabs. When the Heat scored five consecutive points on five free throws from LeBron James and Ray Allen, to cut the lead to two all hell broke loose for the Spurs. Tony Parker, guarded by LeBron James did his finest Curley Neal impression, sliding around to make the signature shot of his career: A desperate bank shot heave that put the Spurs up four and finally put the game away.
My measure of the greatness of a particular game always resides in the reaction of the casual/non-sports fan. When Bosh missed his fourth three of the game, my friend, a casual fan, said “San Antonio must be really good, because they are forcing that tall guy to shoot from far away.” I asked what he thought about how the game was being played and he responded, “both teams seem to keeping up with the other team, but they’re still making shots. I guess that’s why they are the best huh?” Sometimes it’s that simple.
Game 1 was played with the sort of basketball precision and execution that would make the baby boomer generation stand and applaud, but had the dramatic effect that could keep the attention of even the most A.D.D. riddled member of Generation-Y.
Talking heads might play up LeBron’s lack of aggression and downplay his 18 points, 18 Rebounds and 10 assist triple-double performance, overstate Tony Parker’s “clutch gene”, complain about Bosh’s three-point shooting or suggest that the Spurs “stole” the game. That’s their job. Pseudo-analysis, pseudo-debate; there’s no entertainment value or money in celebrating basketball played at its highest level. Someone’s got to be hero and no matter the randomness of the heroism, someone’s got to be the goat.
The Spurs aren’t in control of the series, Miami is not reeling from this Game 1 loss, Miami losing the first game in their 2006 and 2012 championship years have nothing to do with their chances of coming back in this series, anymore than the Spurs winning the first game in their previous 4 championships have anything to do with their ability to win this series. We’re at a standstill after Game 1. The Spurs are Brother Muzone and the Heat are Omar. The respect level is equal on both sides and so is the talent. I love the NBA, I love the way the Heat and Spurs play. I love when basketball is like this, much like when my two favorite characters on my favorite show come together to create a scene for the ages.
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