The 2013 NBA Finals are set and on Thursday it will begin with the defending champion Miami Heat hosting the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs come into the finals looking to add a fifth title to the career of Tim Duncan. The Heat are looking to solidify themselves as worthy of the term “dynasty,” aiming for a repeat title in their third straight finals appearance.
The league got lucky this season with the finals pairing that they got.
Obviously a rematch between the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was what was desired throughout the year. But when Russell Westbrook was injured during the Thunder’s series with the Memphis Grizzlies, the dream rematch died.
Westbrook’s presence, based on how OKC played without him against the Grizzles, was what put Memphis over the top. The Thunder lost all their games close in the series loss and appeared to lack that extra something after Westbrook was out.
With the Thunder out of the playoffs, the Spurs were the best Western Conference champion option for the league. After the Thunder, there was nobody else remaining in the West that had the talent or coaching that the Spurs have, nor the championship experience.
The Spurs’ four NBA titles over the last fourteen seasons, three with their current big three of Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, allowed the league to go with the “champion of the past versus champion of the present” route for their hyping of the series.
Another reason the Spurs ended up being a good fit for the Heat in this year’s finals has to do with the leader of the Heat on the court, LeBron James. James lost to the Spurs in his only finals appearance while with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007.
Not only did he lose, but James was embarrassed in the Cavs’ loss while the Spurs’ big three all rolled with Parker taking MVP honors after the Spurs finished their sweep. Fast forward six years later and James gets his second shot. But now James isn’t learning how to become Superman, he is Superman.
This is a player who has won multiple league MVP’s, conference titles and one NBA title since that finals embarrassment. This time, LeBron is at a level equal to or above the Spurs instead of being what he was back then: the young phenom who still had some things to learn.
With LeBron and the Heat in the finals, the masses should be satisfied, Although the ratings numbers for NBA finals involving the Spurs may still have some higher-ups in the league biting their fingernails, LeBron’s status within the sport has risen so much since 2007 that even the Spurs (an “unsexy” team to most) being in the finals shouldn’t tank the viewership numbers.
Basketball purists, along with fans everywhere, should embrace the Spurs are taking on the Heat in this year’s finals. The purists should, and will, because of the Spurs’ everyman aura, focus on fundamentals and not-that-flashy style of play. Fans everywhere should embrace the Spurs as a finals opponent for LeBron and the Heat because of the Spurs are the winningest team of the first 21st century so far and the only team other than the Los Angeles Lakers to win at least three NBA titles in the 21st century.
Whether you like it or not, the Heat and the Spurs will duel for pro basketball’s championship this year. With this finals pairing, and the likelihood of a compelling series between these teams, a question needs to be asked: Should a rematch of a series that had been a blowout or the most consistent team in basketball going against Miami’s big three have been the finals everyone should have wanted in the first place?