Now and for always, conversations about the 2013 NBA Finals will hone in on the frantic finishes of games six and seven between the victorious Miami Heat and the oh, so close San Antonio Spurs.
The dramatic final moments of those contests gave us, arguably, the most exciting back to back playoff games in the storied history of the National Basketball Association. But when this epic series is recalled -- be it in the immediate afterglow of something truly special, or at some distant point in time -- it will be worth remembering how these seven games were played.
Mike Breen, who called the Finals for ABC, had the right words: "What a display of sportsmanship and class."
At a time when hard fouls, technical fouls, and flagrant fouls are an every-game occurrence in the NBA, the two best teams in professional basketball traversed a hotly-contested seven-game series without excessive physicality, and mostly void of harsh words or hard feelings. And the absence of attempted intimidation or unnecessary confrontation did not make the Finals any less exciting. The superb team play of gifted athletes was quite enough to keep the in-house and TV audiences on the edge of their seats.
When it was all over, the winners exhibited grace in victory -- controlling the euphoria they were feeling while acknowledging the greatness of the team they had barely beaten. And the losers, as sports reporter Grant Hughes put it, "gave a clinic on class."
At the end of deciding game seven, the on-court scene was one of mutual respect. Neither the Heat nor the Spurs bolted for the locker room. Hugs and handshakes were all about.
And isn't this the way sports is supposed to be?