Amazing Is Game 7

via ESPN.com

Look, this is exactly how I wanted this series to end.

I love Game 7. I love to see players forced into a decision of giving it everything they’ve got or folding. I love that the only way to win a game 7 is with your teammates, and I love the idea that every single player in this series spent hours/days/months/years as a kid imagining themselves in this exact situation:

“This is it folks. Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 10 seconds left. The coach has called the play for…”

Game 7s in the Finals is actually a lot more rare than you’d think. In the modern era (and for the record, I subscribe to the notion that the modern era began when Magic and Bird entered the league), there have only been 4 Game 7s in the Finals:

  • 1984 Celtics/Lakers (BOS 111, LAL 102)
  • 1988 Lakers/Pistons (LAL 108, DET 105)
  • 1994 Rockets/Knicks (HOU 90, NYK 84)
  • 2005 Spurs/Pistons (SAS 84, DET 74)

Take note that in each of the Modern era Finals game 7s, the outcome was decided by 10 points or fewer. But it’s not only that. This is Lakers/Celtics. The signature rivalry.

Kobe may as well summon the eye of Mordor and set it up on the roof of the Staples Center.

This is as big as the NBA gets.

Now there’s plenty – and I mean plenty – of story lines to talk about. Kobe’s legacy, Kobe’s leadership. Can the Celtics play together? Can they stop the Lakers forwards? What about the big three? Rondo? Gasol? Odom? Perkins?

But if you want to know what I think…

I recently read a great story recently about Pat Riley in game 6 of the Heat/Mavs series in 2006. The Heat had a 3-2 lead and were trying to close it out on the road in Dallas. The story goes that somewhere shortly after halftime, Riley put away his clipboard. In every subsequent timeout, Riley stopped calling plays. He stopped drawing up Xs and Os, he stopped talking strategy or defensive schemes. Instead, he transformed himself into a corner coach in a boxing match:

“Listen to me.. You. Are better than they are! I believe in you! You’ve got to believe in each other! You’re smarter, you’re faster, you’re stronger! They can’t beat you! Look at them, they’re about to give up. JUST KEEP PUSHING!”

And that, I think, is the theme. At this point, it’s not about the philosophy or the trends or even the stats. It’s about the fight.

Let this stand as notice: watch tonight’s game.

If you’re a casual fan, or you’re tired of seeing these two in the Finals, or you prefer the college game or you haven’t really followed it since Michael was playing, that’s cool. I understand.

But watch this game.

Pick a side, grab a beer and buckle up.

You’ll be glad you did.

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~ by djepperson on June 17, 2010.

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