Did you feel that?
That kidney shot, that dagger to the heart, that excruciating experience that was watching the Spurs fall to the Heat in this year’s NBA Finals?
When Tony Parker hit that wild turnaround over LeBron James to seal a Game 1 win, the shot clock seemingly stuck at 0.1 seconds for an eternity, it became the Spurs’ series to lose. After responding to the Game 2 loss with a 36-point shellacking of the Heat in Game 3, it seemed like they were well on their way to locking up their fifth NBA championship.
The teams exchanged victories in Games 4 and 5 before returning to Miami for Game 6. One more victory was all the Spurs needed. How sweet would it be for Commissioner David Stern to give Gregg Popovich that coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy in front of thousands of fickle, undeserving Heat fans?
It would be the perfect ending for Stern to hand the trophy over to the same Spurs he fined $250,000 last November for sitting its players in the only regular season meeting against Miami.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
The Spurs imploded in Game 6. Popovich proved even the best coaches make mistakes when he sat Tim Duncan on the last two defensive possessions before the Heat forced overtime with back-to-back three-pointers from James and Ray Allen. At the end of overtime, Manu Ginobili couldn’t finish at the rim. Danny Green was blocked by Chris Bosh at the buzzer.
It’s the kind of Game 6 loss that predetermines the outcome of Game 7.
But if there was any team that could bounce back from such a demoralizing loss, it was the Popovich-led Spurs. Yet, they never took control of the game. The Heat triumphed, as James and Co. celebrated their second straight title.
The team that was bought beat the team that was built.
This one is going to sting for a while.